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

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

Cloth: 978 1 62036 559 5 / $125.00
Published: April 2018  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 62036 561 8 / $125.00  
About Library E-Book

Published: April 2018  

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

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
208 pp., 6" x 9"
tables & figures
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
Foreword—Stephen D. Brookfield

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

About the Authors and Contributors


Reviews & Endorsements:
"I've stolen a lot from this book. I regard myself as an avid collector of new pedagogic baubles and love it when I stumble across a new way to engage my students as I have done many times by reading Herman and Nilson's work. I have no doubt that as you read this book your own collection of discussion-based teaching strategies will be significantly enlarged."
- Stephen D. Brookfield, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis-St. Paul
"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