Category Archives: Teaching with discussion

Assessing student discussions

A couple of years ago, a thoughtful colleague challenged our faculty to think more systematically about how we assess class discussions. (Thanks, Jeff!) I’ve been puzzling over it ever since, and this is where I’ve gotten so far. For most … Continue reading

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Taking risks: an experiment in letting go of the reins

I barely spoke in my new senior elective last week. When I came into class, I didn’t know what the students had read. I wasn’t sure what we’d be emphasizing in class. No, I’m not confessing to a mid-life crisis. … Continue reading

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Approaches to Class Discussion

Well, the end of the semester hit me, and a few days turned into weeks, but now I’m back to thinking about discussions. I spent awhile this spring systematically reading my way through other the descriptions other teachers have posted … Continue reading

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Socrates: an imaginary observation

Dear Socrates, Thank you for allowing me to observe your class on the nature of reality on Friday.  I very much enjoyed it. There was clearly a high level of engagement in your classroom.  (I use this term loosely:  I … Continue reading

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What do I mean by a scholarly discussion?

What should the ideal class discussion look like? I’m thinking about wonderful discussions I’ve had with groups of working academics in the past.  What made them different from the discussions my students have?  The scholars are experts in their fields, … Continue reading

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Discussion leading vs. teaching discussion–what are we doing, anyhow?

We all know what we want a discussion class to look like:  all students should be engaged and active participants, the tone should be one of civil egalitarianism, the points should be on-topic and well grounded in evidence, and the … Continue reading

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Talking about things, or why is discussion so hard?

The first year I taught a high school class after years leading college discussion sections, one of my students complained on an end-of-the-year evaluation that “all we do is sit around and talk.”  I was appalled at the difference between … Continue reading

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A Quiet Class

There is nothing in teaching quite like the feeling of being in a classroom full of students clamoring to make their points (it’s particularly nice, of course, if those points are about the subject I planned for the class to … Continue reading

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