Strategies for Success

Keep these handy tips in mind as you begin your Seminars on Science course. These tools will help you manage your time, communicate with your instructor and engage in a positive discussion with your class, so you can succeed in our online learning environment.

Communicate with your instructor.

  • Let them know whether you're sinking, treading water, or swimming along. Even the smallest details are interesting and helpful to them.
  • Jump in to post your thoughts at least two or three times a week.

Stay organized, because time goes quickly.

  • Print out your checklist of assignments at the start of your course, and keep it handy week-to-week.
  • A good strategy can be to print out all essays at the beginning of the week.
  • Check the rubrics early on, so you know what your assessment is based on.
  • It's okay to email your instructor with questions.

Manage your time.

  • If you're taking the course for graduate credit, check out the sign-up dates.
  • Know what's due and when, especially your final project. Don't wait until the last week to start it!
  • If you fall behind, talk to your instructors. They're there to help you.

Understand online course etiquette.

When you post to seminar discussions, it's important to think carefully about how your messages may be perceived. The absence of vocal and nonverbal clues makes it harder to understand intent, especially when it comes to humor, sarcasm, or strongly held opinions. Spend some extra time crafting your messages to make sure they convey what you want them to express.

  • It's okay to disagree. Debate is valuable, but disagree respectfully. No flaming, please. Support your peers' efforts and worthwhile ideas as they learn with you.
  • Research shows that, for better and worse, online interactions give rise to strong emotions. People may interpret messages as hurtful and react defensively. But the online environment also generates meaningful intellectual connections and personal bonds.

Learn how to communicate online.

We encourage you to read all the postings each week in order to learn as much as possible and to contribute to the course community. Keep in mind, though, that you should not feel compelled to reply to every message!

  • Posting "I agree" or simply "Yes!" does not further the discussion. Longer, substantive responses are invaluable, and a key component of the course.
  • Correct punctuation and spelling help others understand your perspective. A "check spelling" function is available when you post.
  • We recommend that you write longer posts in a word processor (where they're easier to structure and edit); save them; and then cut and paste them into the discussion window.
  • The first few words of any posted message serve as its "subject line" (or title) so choose them carefully. They help organize weekly discussions.
  • Try to stay on topic in the threaded discussion, or start a new thread with a new subject. 
  • Short paragraphs make for easier reading on the screen.
  • Sign your posted messages. It's a courteous convention, like saying, "Hi, this is {your name}" when you leave a voicemail message.
  • Support your initial postings and your replies with resources from the course or other websites, books, or articles. Remember to cite your sources.

Ready to get started?

location of the User Login button on the Seminars on Science page, in the upper right corner

When you are ready to start your course, click here to login. (Remember your course will not be available until day one. Check the session calendar for the start date.) The "Course Login" button is also located at the top right corner of the Seminars on Science website.