Leading Discussions

Another common method for engaging students in the classroom is discussions.  Leading effective discussions can be challenging.  Instructors sometimes are concerned about discussions going off track or students not wanting to participate.  With preparation and practice, you can overcome these challenges and improve your students' learning.  There are many useful ways to get and keep students thinking critically, talking, and learning using strategies to promote healthy dialogue, active learning tools, and student interaction to stimulate classroom discussions and foster learning.

Benefits of Leading Discussions in a Classroom

  • Allows active engagement
  • Provides immediate student/instructor feedback
  • Develops critical, reflective thinking and problem solving skills
  • Increases interest and participation
  • Strengthens public speaking skills
  • Allows students to master understanding
  • Supports collaborative learning
  • Gives students practice using their discipline

Strategies for Implementing Discussion

  • Discussion Boards via Canvas
  • Group Interaction/Exercises
  • Open-ended guided questions or scenarios
  • Writing Assignments
  • Think-Pair-Share active learning

Additional Resources

The 1986 Idea Paper - Improving Discussions compares the strengths and weaknesses of using discussion in your classes and provides recommendations for structuring discussions and encouraging participation.

Idea Paper - Effective Classroom Discussions is the 2011 update of "Improving Discussions" and describes roles for both students and instructors in effective discussions.