Why do we assess your discussion-forum postings at all? There are four main reasons: (i) In the online medium especially, the amount of interaction between participants has been found to be a key factor in learning outcomes. If students feel that they belong to a community, they tend to feed off this synergy and learn more effectively. (ii) Postings create opportunities for the teaching staff to identify misunderstandings of key concepts which might otherwise go undetected. (iii) In writing six fairly substantial postings on different modules, you need to engage deeply with a reasonable proportion of the course content. (iv) Because 40% of the total marks available in LIN5000 are allocated to discussion-forum work over most of the semester, this obviates the need for you to do a relatively lengthy assignment towards the end (at a time when you might be busy working on major assignments for other courses). Second, why two sets of postings rather than only one? This is mainly in order to provide you, via assignment #1, with some formal feedback on your performance in LIN5000 in the first half of the semester. In particular, this feedback might help you to identify, in good time, aspects of your discussion-forum work (and your writing more generally) which are in need of improvement.
For assignment #1, you need to select three discussion-forum postings you have made in the topicrelated forums over the first few weeks of the semester. Each posting must be 300-350 words long (excluding the reference list at the end of the posting), with no 10% leeway. The word count for each posting covers the posting text only (including in-text citations and quotes). Note that it includes the question that you pose to the group (see below for more information), plus, if you are responding to a classmate, your acknowledgement of your classmate’s question. Please state the word count within each posting. This must go immediately before the reference list. You may include postings from modules 1 to 5 only. (Although there is no penalty for posting on module 1, we suggest that you avoid including a posting on this module in this assignment if possible. As chapter 1 of the textbook is introductory only, it lacks the depth of the remaining chapters. Consequently, it may be difficult for you to produce a substantial posting for this module.) All three postings must come from different modules. For example: 1. Forum topic 2 – Brain and language 2. Forum topic 3 – Morphology: the words of language 3. Forum topic 5 – Semantics and pragmatics: the meanings of language Needless to say, please ensure that you make enough topic-related postings over the semester to be able to complete this assignment. Within each of the topic-related forums, you will find a discussion-starter posting made by the examiner: ‘Comment on one issue in this module that struck you as particularly interesting/important/ controversial etc.’.
Your posting can relate to something in the prescribed textbook or in one of the supplementary readings. One good strategy is to post on an issue that is only mentioned in passing in the course materials for a given module. Alternatively, you can post on an issue that is not mentioned in any of the course materials, but is relevant to the topic of the module. In either of these cases, you are extending the coverage of the course content in a worthwhile direction, while keeping your discussion-forum contributions related to the relevant module.
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