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Discussion in the College Classroom: Getting Your Students Engaged and Participating in Person and Online

ISBN: 978-1-118-57135-4
224 pages
May 2015
Discussion in the College Classroom: Getting Your Students Engaged and Participating in Person and Online (1118571355) cover image


Keep students engaged and actively learning with focused, relevant discussion

Second only to lecture as the most widely used instructional strategy, there's no better method than classroom discussion to actively engage students with course material. Most faculty are not aware that there is an extensive body of research on the topic from which instructors can learn to facilitate exceptional classroom discussion. Discussion in the College Classroom is a practical guide which utilizes that research, frames it sociologically, and offers advice, along with a wide variety of strategies, to help you spark a relevant conversation and steer it toward specific learning goals.

Applicable across a spectrum of academic disciplines both online and on campus, these ideas will help you overcome the practical challenges and norms that can undermine discussion, and foster a new atmosphere of collaborative learning and critical thinking. Higher education faculty are increasingly expected to be more intentional and reflective in their pedagogical practice, and this guide shows you how to meet those expectations, improve student outcomes, and tackle the perennial problem of lagging engagement.

Thoroughly grounded in the scholarship of teaching and learning, this book gives you concrete guidance on integrating discussion into your courses. You'll learn to:

  • Overcome the challenges that inhibit effective discussion
  • Develop classroom norms that facilitate discussion
  • Keep discussion focused, relevant, and productive
  • Maximize the utility of online student discussions

The kind of discussion that improves learning rarely arises spontaneously. Like any pedagogical technique, careful planning and smart strategy are the keys to keeping students focused, engaged, and invested in the conversation. Discussion in the College Classroom helps you keep the discussion applicable to the material at hand while serving learning goals.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Preface xv

About the Author xix

1. Introduction: Why Bother with Classroom Discussion? 1

2. Is Anyone Really Paying Attention? 15

3. The Challenge of Dominant Talkers 47

4. Students’ Differing Definitions of the Classroom 79

5. Making Online Discussion Work 105

6. To Grade or Not to Grade? And Other Conundrums 141

Afterword 165

References 171

Index 191

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Author Information

JAY R. HOWARD is professor of sociology and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University in Indianapolis. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2013 American Sociological Association's (ASA) Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award, the 2009 P.A. Mack Award for Distinguished Service to Teaching from Indiana University, the 2008 Hans O. Mauksch Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education from the ASA Section on Teaching and Learning, and the 2001 North Central Sociological Association Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award.

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