Edited by John Ishiyama, William J. Miller and Eszter Simon
Chapter 37: Getting students to talk: best practices in promoting student discussion
This chapter is based on the simple premise that students often learn best through active participation facilitated through classroom discussion. Although lectures and instructor-led lessons play an important role in imparting analytical concepts and empirical facts, the passive assimilation of information does not provide a complete learning experience. Moreover, despite the fact that most instructors are aware of the benefits of engaged student discussion, encouraging active participation can be difficult especially when the benefits of passive learning through such means as massive open online classes have been touted as a partial solution to the problem of access to higher education. Instructors can benefit from maintaining a toolkit of practices that promote student discussion with the aim of reinforcing course concepts through active learning (Meyers and Jones 1993). Student discussion is useful in a variety of disciplines but is arguably more essential in the social sciences and humanities than in the physical and natural sciences. Although students certainly can benefit from collaboration and group learning in science classes, critical discussion of analytical concepts and theoretical claims in the humanities and social sciences is an integral element in advancing knowledge even at the undergraduate level (Kramer and Korn 1999).
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