Class discussions can be exhilarating spaces of intellectual transformation, a series of painfully awkward moments whose end can’t come soon enough, or something in between. They can also be sites of challenging dynamics among students fueled by misunderstandings, lack of experience, oppression or discrimination, and many other issues.
Many colleagues find it useful to develop, in collaboration with their students, a set of shared expectations or guidelines for discussion. It’s important to ensure that the guidelines don’t prioritize the concerns, experiences, or feelings of safety of some students over others.
If you’re looking for perspective, strategies, and recommendations that can help you and your students engage in meaningful class discussion, I recommend the following:
- How to hold a better class discussion (Jay Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Facilitating effective discussions (University of Waterloo Centre for Teaching Excellence)
- Leading effective discussions (University of Chicago Center for Teaching)
- Framing the discussion (from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Instructional Moves project)
- Liberating structures – A guide to alternative methods of engagement in the classroom
- Creating classroom community agreements (Jesica Siham Fernández in Inside Higher Ed) (new!)
If you’re looking for ways to navigate difficult class dynamics, you may find some of these resources useful:
- 10 in the moment responses for addressing micro- and macroaggressions in the classroom (Chavella Pittman, 2021)
- How to defuse a classroom conflict: Make it more complex (Mehl & Haidt, 2022)
- Engaging difficult dialogues in higher education (handbooks from the University of Alaska, Anchorage) (new!)
- The Deliberative Citizenship Initiative at Davidson College (new!)