Creating Engaging Discussions
Strategies for "Avoiding Crickets" in Any Size Classroom and Online

Paper: 978 1 62036 560 1 / $27.50
Due: April 2018  

Cloth: 978 1 62036 559 5 / $95.00
Due: April 2018  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 62036 561 8 / $95.00 Due: April 2018  
About Library E-Book


E-Book: 978 1 62036 562 5 / $21.99
Due: April 2018  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
208 pp., 6" x 9"
If you have ever been apprehensive about initiating classroom discussion, fearing silences, the domination of a couple of speakers, superficial contributions, or off-topic remarks, this book provides strategies for creating a positive learning experience.

Jennifer H. Herman and Linda B. Nilson demonstrate how to create the conditions to facilitate deep and meaningful learning as well as to assess the effectiveness of discussions. They identify, analyze, and solve common problems in both classroom and online discussions and in both small and large classes. They take a direct, practice-oriented approach that, in acknowledging common challenges, provides principles, guidance on design, examples of activities and techniques, and eight detailed case studies. These cases demonstrate successful approaches that faculty across disciplines and from a variety of institutions have adopted in their face-to-face, blended, or online courses at the undergraduate or graduate level.

The case authors begin by describing the original pedagogical challenge they faced and explain how they addressed it and assessed the results of their innovation. They also offer practical recommendations to readers who may want to try their strategies.

Intended for faculty, this book will be equally valuable for educational developers who can use this resource in their programs and private consultations. At the graduate level, this book can serve as a text or workshop resource in college teaching courses and teaching assistant development programs. The final chapter provides a set of resources and activities – including discussion questions on the case studies, writing prompts, and jigsaw formats – that are equally appropriate for individual study or for use in workshop environments.

You’ll never again have to suffer such a profound silence that, as described by a contributor to the book, she could hear the crickets chirping outside.

Table of Contents:
Quick Reference to Discussion Activities Described in this Book

1) The Strengths and Challenges of Discussion
2) Getting All Students Engaged
3) Preventing and Responding to Common Discussion Pitfalls
4) Connecting Discussion with Learning
5) Gauging the Effectiveness of a Discussion
6) Learning and Interpreting History through Deliberative Dialogue—Mary Jo Festle, Elon University
7) How Co-Teaching and Other Strategies Promote Lively Student Engagement—Matthea Marquart and Mary Ann Drury, Columbia University
8) Got Introverts? Get CAE (Collaborative Autoethnography)—Mary Shapiro, Simmons College
9) Using a Contemplative Pedagogy to Promote Discussion in a First Year Seminar—Jennifer W. Shewmaker, Abilene Christian University
10) Avoiding Crickets by Creating an Orchestra of Students—Billy Strean, University of Alberta
11) Spicing up Students’ Education: The Use of Course-Based Undergraduate Research to Foster Student Communication—Heather Townsend, Community College of Rhode Island
12) Applying Students’ Insights for Engaging Inquiry in a Blended Course—Janelle DeCarrico Voegele, Portland State University
13) Solve Several Online Course Challenges with Student Critiques of Primary Literature—David M. Wilson, Parkland College
14) Faculty Discussion Group Resources

About the Authors


Reviews & Endorsements:
"Creating Engaging Discussions encourages instructors to have high expectations for, and to give serious attention to, discussions. This insightful, practical book not only summarizes best practices, explains common problems, and suggests possible solutions, it also helps us to diagnose and frame problems with discussions in the larger context of overall course design, challenging us to think carefully about and make explicit the exact purposes for discussions, vis-a-vis well-conceived course learning goals and assessments.”
- Alan Bender, Associate Professor, Biology , Indiana University, Bloomington
"This book injects new life into discussion as an active-learning tool by demonstrating that to be effective, discussions must be tethered to course learning outcomes and rigorously assessed. After astutely analyzing common problems associated with discussion, the book provides 12 principles and a framework that faculty and TAs can use to design discussion activities that result in meaningful learning. Case studies provide a rich illustration of how these principles can be put into practice in classrooms and online. An essential resource for instructors who use discussion in teaching."
- Linda M. von Hoene, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development, Director, GSI Teaching & Resource Center , University of California, Berkeley