instructor interacting with students in a classroom

Topic Overview

“Discussion has two features that make it a powerful teaching tool. If different voices, different perspectives, and a range of experiences are shared, they can lead the discussion to new places. Ideas emerge that participants (including the teacher) haven’t considered before. The comments flow, circle each other, and connect unexpectedly. Participants are engaged—with the content and each other. In a good discussion, you can feel the learning happening! Secondly, discussions have power derived from their uniqueness. The combination of comments, questions, ideas, and insights shared in a discussion become a knowledge base created by that group.”

– Maryellen Wiemer

Strategies

Encourage Student Participation

While some students willingly speak up, others have difficulty sharing their ideas so try to keep student voices balanced. Asking open-ended questions is also a good way to get the class talking.

Keep discussion organized and focused

Classroom discussions can sometimes ebb and flow in surprising ways, but it is important to keep students focused on the original topic. Make sure discussion questions are clear and visible. Acknowledge off-topic responses and try to link them back to the original topic.

Resources

Diving Deeper/Research