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We all would like to create a classroom environment where productive discussion leads to learning, but how can we set up students for this type of success? Some students are reluctant to speak, while others have no reservations about dominating the conversation. The Discussing Discussions workshop explores the theory and practice of classroom discussions, identifying specific techniques and strategies while discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Slides:
Resources:

Harvard Leading Discussions Handbook: This discussion guide was produced by The Derek Bok Center For Teaching and Learning at Harvard University for the graduate Teaching Fellows program. This guide provides an overview of the purpose of discussion in the learning process and practical tools to build productive and diverse discussions among your students. This guide is also used with Dartmouth's Learner Fellows program.

CRTL_Discussion_Worksheets.docx: The Center for Research on Teaching and Learning at the University of Michigan provides these tools for increasing inclusivity in classroom discussions at their workshops. Full of ideas for approaching difficult situations, these worksheets are a great reflection activity.

Peer Review Questions for Discussions: One technique for dealing with the dreaded problem of "participation points" is to ask students to assess each other following a discussion. This rubric can be modified to meet your own needs.

Faculty Focus Discussion Self Assessment: Looking for some great ideas on how to measure what really matters in a discussion? This article encourages student-awareness about the goals of a discussion, which increases student investment in a successful outcome.

Universal Design for Learning Guidelines: The Universal Design for Learning framework asks you to consider multiple means of engagement in a discussion: perhaps you offer participation for either an in-person discussion OR one that happens asynchronously on Canvas.

Discussion Activity Idea: The Popsicle Stick Campfire (can also use Poker Chips)

Objective: Encourage all students to participate while also building empathy among dominant talkers, encouraging thoughtful deliberate contributions.

Steps: Each student receives 3 popsicle sticks at the beginning of a discussion - a green (labeled Go), a yellow (labeled Slow), and a red (labeled Stop). When the student speaks, they throw a popsicle stick into the "campfire" in the middle of the group - first green, then yellow, and finally red. Once a student has thrown their last popsicle stick, they cannot speak again until all students have thrown their sticks and the campfire discussion is blazing hot!

Note: Of course this method can be accomplished without the colors, though some students respond to the go--slow--stop.

Like a huddle on a sports team, teaching huddles are an opportunity for members of a teaching team to regroup and evaluate their teaching strategies. Teaching huddles are rapid-fire problem-solving sessions that take place each week while a course is in session. They are agile, meaning that they respond quickly and flexibly to the evolving needs of a course as it is being taught. Teaching huddles may be appropriate for any course that has more than one person working to help students learn course material. Some examples of teaching huddles include professors co-teaching a course, a professor working with graduate teaching assistants or Learning Fellows, or a professor working with instructional designers.  ...continue reading "Teaching Huddles"

This post was crafted in collaboration with Rebecca Taub (Brown University), Petra Bonfert-Taylor,Erin DeSilvaPrudence Merton, and Kes Schroer (Dartmouth).

Students in a group meeting.Group work can take many forms, from short discussions to term-long projects. In our Active Learning Canvas site, we have resources on many activities that could be group based, such as Case Study ApproachCreating a Shared Knowledge BasePeer Instruction, and of course Team-Based Learning...continue reading "Using Student Groups in Your Teaching "

By Adam Nemeroff and Erin DeSilva

The following is a guide for creating materials that are accessible to a variety of students, regardless of accommodation need. In this guide, we detail how to do this depending on what materials you are creating. We include both general guidelines, as well as specific steps to follow for specific tools and materials. 

This guide from Auckland University gives a wonderful overview of these similar guidelines.

The University of Auckland describes how to create Inclusive Online Courses.
The University of Auckland describes how to create Inclusive Design for Online Accessibility. Here is a downloadable PDF.

...continue reading "Creating Accessible Materials"

"How can I make my site great?"  (or versions thereof) is one of the most commonly asked questions we receive.

 

Our answer is the following list of questions. We designed it to help you prepare your course according to current "best practices" in student learning and course design.  Each is also grounded in the principles of Universal Design.  You'll notice that there are many items here that you might consider addressing outside of Canvas - that's great too!

Many items include links for you to learn more about each particular topic.  Please also feel free to contact your Instructional Designer to discuss any or all of these items! ...continue reading "Leveling Up Your Course Design Using Canvas"

By Alicia Brandon (Student Accessibility Services) and Adam Nemeroff (Instructional Design)

This post is the first in a series of collaborations between Student Accessibility Services and EdTech where we will explore the role of Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) and its role in creating an inclusive classroom environment. In this first post, we will introduce UDI and its principles, frame definitions for each principle, and provide examples of the principles in use.

UDI is a set of principles meant to address the needs of all learners. A classroom that adopts these principles seeks to not only support the needs of students requiring accommodations, but the needs of all learners to allow them to learn at their best. These principles, introduced by Scott, McGuire, and Shaw (2001), are increasingly being embraced by educators across the nation. ...continue reading "Creating Inclusive Courses with Universal Design"

Student feedback offered through mid-course evaluations provides a great opportunity to improve your course, both for yourself and your students.  Read below to discover how to implement them in your class in five easy steps. ...continue reading "Mid-Course Evaluations"