If you are struggling to find something to say in an open-ended response, try to pretend you are in a real, face-to-face conversation and that you really want to add something interesting.
Can you think of a stimulating question to ask your classmate? Can you suggest some other application of the posted topic? Or can you hypothesize a mechanism behind the science in the post? Do you have a personal experience that relates to the post? These are all things you should be considering and responding to in your posts. If you absolutely can't think of anything to say, try doing an internet search for the topic to see if you can find some new information to bring to the conversation.
Please note that your classmates will surely appreciate simple pats on the back, but these should be IN ADDITION to substantive comments. Same for correcting typos; these types of comments can be very helpful, especially if students take the time to edit their posts before the due date, but they sidestep the substantive feedback I'm looking for in this class.
Here are two examples of quality discussion board responses, plus an inadequate one.
- Here's an example of a great reply: "This was an interesting read. It always scares the crap out of me when I hear stories that relate to me very directly as this one does. I drank quite a bit when I was younger, so as soon as I hear a claim like this one I am emotionally involved with what I am hearing, often to a point of momentary irrationality. Your guest mentioned that the great thing about science is that findings can be further scrutinized and are not absolute. I would offer that the fact they are not absolute gives a level of optimism to people who are the object of studies like these, and I think keeping that in mind is crucial for individual peace of mind. [Good job, Evan from spring '08]
- Here's short, but substantive one: "Hey XXXX, Really cool story! I like how you threw the president in there, considering how election day is coming up. I like how you used all the terms, and they all made sense in context. I never knew anything about the gel until this assignment. It's interesting how by electrifying it, it gets the strands split up. I'm really thankful for this technology, because it's helped uncover millions of investigations and mysteries. Good job!
" [Thanks, Lindsay from fall '12]
- Here's an example of an inadequate reply: "What a great opening line! I appreciate the humor in a biology paper. :) You really kept the tone of the Colbert show. I absolutely love that show. Actually, that show is the perfect place to talk about Evolution in a unique way. Stephens’ usual cynicism is captured perfectly in your paper. I also thought you put the chapter words in there really well. " [Note that this response doesn't really give the author anything to respond to in their Final Thoughts post. It adds nothing beyond generic pats on the back, and no biology content is discussed or questioned.]
And here are two examples of great responses to Adopt-a-Species posts (Chapter 11's), plus an inadequate one.
- Here's an example of a great response: Great job, XXXXX. Your report was very informative, and I learned a lot about the Smith's Blue Butterfly. I especially found the adaptations you listed to be very interesting, and I could not find any discrepancies in this assignment and your previous ones. I can understand that tourism in California is an extremely profitable industry, and it wouldn't surprise me that corporations are trying to find ways to access national refuge land. I do have a few questions, however, about the experiment you've proposed. Specifically, how would you selectively breed this butterfly to rely on other plants for food? If it only relies on coastal buckwheat and does not consume any other plants or food sources, how would selective breeding work? Unless the butterfly species has another food source other than coastal buckwheat that it feeds off of, I would think it would be challenging to create this new adaptation. If it were possible, I can see how a new species may arise, since the new population would likely come into little contact with the original coastal-dwelling population. I do have to disagree with you, however, and say that it seems like an extremely unethical proposal. I don't think such a breeding project would be successful, and if the butterfly's natural habitat were to be opened up to development, it's likely that the species would rapidly become extinct. [Thanks, Cait from fall '12]
- Here's another great one: "Hi XXXX!
I think you have a good proposal here for selective breeding. Although indirect, improving the population of butterflies in order to increase plant pollination would be a commercially useful endeavor. Your report also has the added benefit of helping the conservation of this butterfly, and in that respect it is nicely consistent with your previous posts.
I am curious, though, as to what you meant by increasing the complexity of wing patterns. Does the complexity of the wing designs really improve the butterfly’s resistance? Or would it be some other factor, such as realistically mimicking a face, or simply being vivid?
If this program is adopted and the species is bred this way, I do not see a significant problem or issue. It’s highly unlikely that the butterfly would pose a serious risk of overpopulation or ecosystem damage.
Great post!" [Good job, Werner from fall '10]
- Here's an example of an inadequate response: Hi XXXX.
Pest reduction sounds like a very good use for your species. I can't think of any place that either does not have some sort of pest problem or doesn't want their pests reduced, so I believe this venture would be very successful. I think as long as you look for a market ahead of time (always a smart business idea), you could stand to make a decent profit!
[The reason this response is inadequate is that it doesn't address the response questions required by the assignment.]
Contemporary Issues in Biology -- BIOL 1003
Mariëlle H. Hoefnagels, Ph.D. © 2004-2012.
biology1003 at OU dot edu (at = @, dot =.)
December 17, 2012 10:42 PM