Today at lunch, I attended an excellent workshop on “Improving Classroom Discussion”, given by Mary Balkun, Professor of English and Debra Zinicola, Professor of Educational Studies here at Seton Hall. This workshop caught my eye immediately when the advertisement came out because I use face-2-face discussion as one of forms of activities in EDST 6306 – Capstone and online discussion in EDST 6347 – Adult Learning Theory and Coaching. Face-2-face discussion is easier for me however they gave many tips and tricks for promoting deeper discussion that I am definitely going to implement.
Tips that resonated with me …
- Don’t stand in the front of the room during a discussion, stand in the back of the room to shift discussion responsibility to the students visually.
- Pose questions you are struggling with yourself to come up with more open-ended questions
- Resist the temptation to comment on every or any response – they could be responding to each other, don’t add to it. Tell students you are just going to smile and nod.
- If a student is dominating, tell them you are going to “mute” them.
- Close the loop at the end of a discussion by having students write down the top 3 things they learned in the discussion/conversation. Go around the room and have everyone give their top three.
- Have activities that promote discussion (i.e. have pre-answered questions for class discussion). For example, use a case study with priming questions, have student find a youtube video related to the course content and answer a question, read two articles out of 5 articles from a selection and respond to a question using evidence from the articles, fill out a chart to compare models/theories). Other activity was consensus grouping for a topic that has multiple points of view. The class is divided into smaller groups whose job it is to reach a consensus. They have to make a choice.
- Use a participation game where they get points for adding to a discussion (i.e. one point for bringing up a new point, one point for giving evidence, one point for building upon the discussion). This is something I am going to try in my online Adult Learning Theory course.
After the workshop, I spoke to Deb about our struggles with getting students to add to an online discussion (i.e. “the reply”). It is my doubt that student even go back and read what someone has posted in regards to their original post. She suggested having the student make a second post, instead of a reply. That second post could be something like ..
- Use 4 people’s comments to summarize points made in the discussion or Voice Thread. Why did you pull these out in particular?
- Write about 3 things other people are staying and what you think about those points.
I am definitely going to try to use the above in my online course where replies usually do not add anything to promote the conversation.
Such a worthwhile presentation! So many ideas, insights and tips.