Rubrics for the discussion area
Since you are strongly encouraged to use the discussion area during the semester, you may be wondering how many posts you should make, and how much time and effort you should spend on each post to earn a particular grade. Here is what you should aim for to earn an "A" in the discussion area.
1. Weekly (or occasionally Bi-weekly) thoughtful student indicated posts (i.e. not replies to other posts) over the course of the semester (i.e. try for a minimum 8 - 10 posts)
2. Occasional (Bi-weekly) thoughtful responses to the posts of your classmates
3. Reasonably prompt and thoughtful posting of assignments as directed in the course syllabus
4. three of more postings of "topics of interest"
Note that not every post needs to be an essay. Occasionally, you might want to alert your classmates (and instructor) to something newsworthy, such as "check out this article from CNN about the New Hubble Space Telescope" at http://www.cnn.com.
On the other hand, when a classmate makes a controversial statement, such as "Sending junk into space is a big waste of time and money," you may want to reply by giving your opinion and your reasons...this will of course take several sentences at least. The key is to make the discussion area a useful and entertaining tool for the course. Don't do it just to earn points...As with all college classes..put your mind to it!