Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How to get a discussion going in class

After setting through some "good" discussions I started reflecting on what made the discussions good. Are good discussions something that can be planned? Good planning can play a part in the success of a discussion. Understanding the types of questions that will facilitate discussion is a definite plus ... open ended questions are more effective than closed questions. Knowing when to ask a question, knowing how questions can redirect or refocus the discussion are all skills that have to be developed and refined. Moderating a discussion is, I believe, an art. Trying to find some link between discussion and evaluation requires planning.

Some topics that merit further thought are:
  • The question types, stems, or key words to use in a discussion
  • Moderation tactics, strategies and techniques
  • Evaluation of a discussion
One key thought ... if one accepts the idea that a good discussion can enhance student learning ... and that the flow or process of a discussion can engage students cognitively ... how can discussions promote critical thinking, critical reflection and be measurable?

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