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Internationally Speaking

Amani came to study in the United States from a middle-eastern country. She was on a government scholarship and had to meet specific academic benchmarks to keep it. Her freshman year consisted primarily of general education courses plus freshman English. Amani did...

Practice, Practice, Practice

Improving discussion skills through guided practice and repetition Jeanne Foster was concerned that her students weren’t making progress on their in-class discussions. She would evaluate each discussion facilitator each class period, but would often see others in...

Coaching Discussion Facilitation

Coaching: providing a path to find answers, not the answers Mohammad was scared of his upcoming discussion facilitation in class. Part of his fears centered around his language skills. His speaking skills were strong. But he worried about whether he could...

Rethinking the Social Compact in Pandemic Times

Among the chronic social conditions that have been brought into sharp relief during the COVID-19 pandemic is that of income inequality. The intersections of poverty, food insecurity, access to health care, and a range of other types of human needs have a bright...

Time to Think

What can in-person discussions learn from online discussions? Paul was an enigma. He was slow to participate in class discussions. But when he did, his contributions were often quite insightful. It wasn’t that he was shy. In fact, he and his friends played in a New...

The “Climate” of Climate Discussion

It would probably surprise few that the tone of climate change discussions has changed considerably over the years. I have been involved as facilitator, participant, or observer in over fifty such discussions over the last fifteen years.  Early on I (and many...

Clues, Cues, and Queues…in Online Discussions

How can we manage the flow, when conversations shift to videoconferencing? "One of the skills you are going to need to develop is to look for discussion participation clues,” Professor Sonja Berenson told her class. “These skills will tell you when someone wants to...