Facilitating Engaging Class Discussions

In this module, faculty learn activities they can use to launch productive discussions, including Hatful of Quotes, Sentence Completions, and Fishbowl techniques. The module also helps instructors balance student participation using wait time, prompts to manage dominant talkers, and techniques to encourage quieter students while also limiting their own talking.

To satisfy the module requirements, practicing faculty must apply at least one technique, such as using a Fishbowl activity, wait time, or prompting.

This module is one of six modules under ACUE’s unit on Using Active Learning Techniques.

Advising Subject Matter Expert

Jay Howard
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Professor, Sociology
Butler University

Module References

Alexander, M. E., Commander, N., Greenberg, D., & Ward, T. (2010). Using the four-questions technique to enhance critical thinking in online discussions. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6, 409–415.

Auster, C. J., & MacRone, M. (1994). The classroom as a negotiated social setting: An empirical study of the effects of faculty members’ behavior on students’ participation. Teaching Sociology, 22, 289–300.

Barkley, E. F., Major, C. H., & Cross, K. P. (2014). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Barton, J., Heilker, P., & Rutkowski, D. (n.d.). Fostering effective classroom discussions. Retrieved from http://www.mhhe.com/

Baxter, J., & Ter Bush, R. (2010). Discussions. Retrieved from http://resources.depaul.edu/

Bonwell, C. C., & Eison, J. A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED340272)

Brookfield, S. D., & Preskill, S. (2005). Discussion as a way of teaching: Tools and techniques for democratic classrooms (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Cashin, W. E. (2011). Effective classroom discussions (Idea Paper #49). Retrieved from http://ideaedu.org/

Cerbin, B. (2010, April 23). Collaborative learning techniques workshop handouts. Center for Advancing Teaching & Learning, UW-La Crosse. Retrieved from http://www.uwlax.edu/

Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Doyle, T. (2008). Helping students learn in a learner-centered environment: A guide to facilitating learning in higher education. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Elkenberry, K. (2007). Brainstorming strategies: Seven questions that spur better solutions. Retrieved from http://www.sideroad.com/

Howard, J. R. (2015). Discussion in the college classroom: Getting your students engaged and participating in person and online. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ito, C. (2014). Techniques for active learning. Retrieved from http://education.wm.edu/

Knight, J. (2013). High-impact instruction: A framework for great teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Rotenberg, R. L. (2010). The art & craft of college teaching: A guide for new professors & graduate students (2nd ed.). Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Sidelinger, R. (2010). College student involvement: An examination of student characteristics and perceived instructor communication behaviors in the classroom. Communication Studies, 61, 87–103.

Twigg, C. A. (2015, November–December). Improving learning and reducing costs: Fifteen years of course description. Change. Retrieved from http://www.changemag.org/

Wieman, C. (2010). Basic instructor habits to keep students engaged. Retrieved from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia website: http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca/

Wieman, C. (2016). Observation guide for active-learning classroom. Retrieved from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia website: http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca/