3 Ways to Encourage Classroom Discussion

Niya Bond

Niya Bond

In this video Niya Bond shares three quick strategies for encouraging effective classroom discussions.

Click here to view the video transcript

– Hi everyone, my name is Niya Bond. I’m a faculty developer here at OneHE, and I’m excited to be with you again today for tea and teaching tips. Today, I wanna talk about building effective classroom discussions, and so I’ll share three tips that you might be able to use in your own classroom or other educational space and place to build effective dialogue and conversation.

My first tip is to forecast the importance of discussions in whatever educational space and place those discussions are gonna be happening. So in addition to text on the syllabus that might let students know why discussions are important, what kind of discussions you’re gonna be having, you may also wanna have open and honest dialogue with students either the first day or the first few weeks of classes so that everyone really understands what a discussion adds to the class and how it should occur. Sometimes, educators find it helpful to include a discussion rubric that you might make with your learners just so that everyone’s on the same page about not only what a discussion should entail, but what kinds of questions might be asked, how long discussions are gonna be in the class, what they’re gonna be about, and what the engagement factor should be as far as contribution from learners and from the educator.

My second tip is to pass out a prompt. Now, you can pass out a prompt way in advance of when you want the discussion to occur. Say, pass it out the week before you’re gonna have a conversation, or you can pass it out the day of if you’re able to give learners a chance in the class to have some processing time to review the prompt. Either way, having something in advance, whether it be specific questions that you want learners to reflect on, whether it be specific bits of a text that you’d like them to analyze and annotate, or even if you’re thinking about multimedia, a brief video or some other form of visual that you’d like them to think about. Giving them a little bit of time to process can really go a long way to building conversational confidence. So some students and people like myself get very nervous when they’re called upon on the fly and they don’t really like being the center of attention. But if you give them a little bit of time to think about their answers, to really reflect and dig into whatever content is being analyzed or whatever parts of the conversation they can contribute to, it can go a long way to building an effective discussion.

My third tip is to debrief. So in the same way that you might wanna start a discussion with a prompt, you might wanna end a discussion with a little bit of meta reflection. And so you can talk with learners about why this conversation was important, what questions or concepts are still unanswered or uncovered. How might the ideas in this particular discussion or conversation connect to what’s happening next? You might actually even consider creating some kind of exit ticket where students can share out individually. So you can then use those exit tickets as a little bit of an informal assessment, checking knowledge and comprehension for each individual student, but as you collect them for the entire class, also for the group, and seeing if there’s anything else that needs a little more time, needs a little more consideration or needs a little more conversation.

And those are my three tips for encouraging effective classroom discussion. Thank you so much for being here today to talk with me about how to forecast an effective discussion, how to pass out a prompt to encourage participation and how to include a debrief to help students engage in meta reflection. I look forward to the next time we’re talking about teaching with a little bit of tea.

In this video Niya Bond, OneHE Faculty Developer, shares three tips for building effective dialogue and conversations in your classroom. Niya talks about the importance of forecasting the discussion, building in some thinking time, passing out a prompt, and debriefing after the subsequent discussion.

If you enjoyed this video, why not join Niya in her other quick tips videos:


What is your favourite strategy for encouraging discussions in the classroom, online, or face-to-face, and why?
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