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Teaching Excellence Program

Using Class Discussions to Meet Teaching Goals

Date: 12:40pm - 1:40pm PST February 1 Location: JR Howard Hall Conference Room 302

JR Howard Hall Conference Room 302

What goals have you set for yourself this semester? What goals have you set for your students? In Using Class Discussions to Meet Your Teaching Goals, Kelly McGonigal (Stanford University) offers a number of concrete suggestions to improve the quality of class discussions. But first, she asks us to consider our goals in using discussion as a teaching technique. Are we trying to increase our students’ comfort with the specialized language or methods of our field? To develop critical thinking skills? To teach our students how best to solve problems (p.1)? 

Jocelyn Hollander (University of Oregon) reminds us that high quality class discussions go far beyond individual participation, and that “while it is certainly true that a poor discussion leader can doom a discussion, simply asking good questions does not ensure an effective discussion” (p.318). Her paper, Learning to Discuss: Strategies for Improving the Quality of Class Discussion, includes a multi-part class exercise that you may consider bringing into your own classroom. 

Here are some questions to consider:  

-Do you use class discussions to meet your teaching goals in one or more of your courses this semester?

-What techniques have you used to enhance the quality of class discussions?

-To what extent do you explicitly focus on teaching students skills associated with good discussions (e.g., active listening, building on past comments)?

-How can we teach our students to shift their attention from individual accomplishment to collective growth during class discussions?

Although an RSVP is not required, a rough ​headcount is always appreciated. If you plan to attend, please RSVP below.Please feel free to bring your own lunch. Coffee, tea, and cookies will be provided. 

Registration for this event is now closed.