Strategies to Foster Classroom Discussion

Strategies to Foster Classroom Discussion

At the start of every semester, college students may expect to attend several “chalk and talk” lectures where an instructor speaks for an hour or so while students take notes. While still a prevalent teaching style across the country, research shows that students attending traditional lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail versus those students attending classes utilizing active learning strategies.

Instructors like Kyle Anderson at Clemson University are evolving their classrooms by tapping into the collective knowledge of the class. In his post on The Wiley Network, Anderson states that a back-and-forth exchange with his students nurtures deeper and more meaningful learning than just the standalone lecture.

Instructors in the WileyPLUS Studio, our online community for educators to connect and share ideas, agree that student dialogue is an important component of any classroom. They offer the following tips to foster discussion:

1. Let students take the lead.

While still the resident expert, the instructor can lose sight of conceptual difficulties that students may face. To approach a lesson from a different perspective and reignite interest, try having each student teach a concept to the class. Research shows that students learn from other students and that student-led teaching results in new questions, thoughts, and ideas emerging.

2. Transition often

Breaking up the lecture period helps students stay focused and engaged. Consider timing yourself to make sure you don’t speak for more than 15 minutes at a time. This will help you segment your class into various activities from videos and group problem-solving to individual activities and brain breaks.

3. Keep it low stakes.

Try posing questions where the “right” answer isn’t necessarily clear or where multiple viewpoints can be rationalized and discussed. By reducing the risk of failure, students are encouraged to share their thoughts.

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