The Discussion Board (DB) is part of the core of online learning. Classroom discussion in an online environment requires the active participation of students and the instructor to create robust interaction and dialogue. Every student is expected to create an original response to the open-ended DB question as well as engage in dialogue by responding to posts created by others throughout the week. At the end of each unit, DB participation will be assessed based on both level of engagement and the quality of the contribution to the discussion.

At a minimum, each student will be expected to post an original and thoughtful response to the DB question and contribute to the weekly dialogue by responding to at least 2 other posts from students. The first contribution must be posted before midnight (Central Time) on Wednesday of each week. Two additional responses are required after Wednesday of each week. Students are highly encouraged to engage on the Discussion Board early and often, as that is the primary way the university tracks class attendance and participation.

The purpose of the Discussion Board is to allow students to learn through sharing ideas and experiences as they relate to course content and the DB question. Because it is not possible to engage in two-way dialogue after a conversation has ended, no posts to the DB will be accepted after the end of each week.

Assignment Description

What does it take to be a living organism?

Living things share 8 characteristics that are listed in Chapter 1 of your textbook on page 19. Think of an organism or cell in which all 8 characteristics are not obvious. For example, coral looks like it does not move, red blood cells do not reproduce and have no DNA, frogs freeze in the winter therefore it seems as if they do not maintain homeostasis, and so on.

Focus your discussion on the following:

  • Make comparisons between living things and nonliving things that have some of the characteristics that define life.
  • Compare the following pairs and explain what the differences are using the 8 criteria:
    • A rock to a snail
    • A rock to a tree
    • A dog to a TV
  • Explain why electricity is sometimes called  live, or discuss some of the characteristics fire shares with living things (it can grow, it metabolizes, and so on).



Grading Rubric


Purpose of Assignment/Content Development

Demonstrates use of appropriate, relevant, and compelling content expressing topic, main idea, and purpose to fully answer all questions.



Critical Thinking

Demonstrates ability to analyze assumptions and evaluate evidence, complexities of issues, and alternatives. Demonstrates ability to use creativity and originality in problem-solving. Applies critical thought to the main topic and to student responses sharing ideas and experiences as they relate to course content and the DB questions.


Effective communication

Organization, Grammar, Presentation: Communicates ideas and content relevant to the assignment through clear and effective language and organization.

Presentation and delivery are confident and persuasive.

Audience, style, tone and perspective are consistent and appropriate to discussion.

Correct grammar, spelling, and sentence structure.


Information Literacy, Research

Student selects and uses high quality, credible references relevant to the assignment questions. Sources are correctly cited using APA style.



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