How to facilitate student conversation through discussion protocols: Making it meaningful and active

Stephanie Dodman

Session Information

Year: 2017 | Time: 11:20am-12:00pm | Location: TEACHING DEMO 2-A: Johnson Center (Room E)

Abstract

BRIEF SESSION DESCRIPTION:

Learn different methods for discussion protocols to facilitate conversations among students. This session will provide examples of different protocols and examine the success of a particular method in creating student engagement.

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FULL ABSTRACT: Discussion protocols are useful structures for facilitating conversation among students. There are a wide array of protocols for a variety of purposes, for example, to examine a text or to prompt students' thinking related to a series of provocative content-related questions or to surface students' assumptions and prior knowledge. In my session, I will be providing a variety of protocols for participants to take for use on their own, but will demonstrate just one of them. I will use a "Block Party" protocol where participants will read a short text (in our case, "Willing to be Disturbed" by Margaret Wheatley), highlight pieces of the text that strike them for whatever reason, and then they will partner with a participant-mate to share their thinking related to one of their highlighted pieces. Their partner will do the same. We will do this several times. The purpose of the activity is to demonstrate the relative ease (with careful planning) of facilitating meaningful conversations among students that elicit their perspectives and call on them to share those perspectives with others. The activity also demonstrates a structure that promotes equity of participation where all students are expected be actively engaged (versus the traditional cycle where the instructor poses a question and only one student responds). Designing for engagement in this way surfaces and values the diversity of students' thinking. If there is time, we will engage in second protocol.  Faculty will have tools to facilitate greater student conversation in their courses. The protocols are not subject specific and are useful to any discipline/content where the instructor would like greater student conversation.

For more information about how to engage students in discussion: https://stearnscenter.gmu.edu/teaching/engaging-students-in-discussion

Keywords

active learning; active learning classrooms; learning spaces; student engagement; critical thinking; creativity

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