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Questions–and Critical Thinking in Discussions

George Winston taught an upper-level economics course on current issues. The course had a major discussion component and today’s class was the first session with students in their small-group discussion teams. George started class by saying: “Today I want you to...

Making Creative Connections

Dr. Jeffrey Swank was fed up with his class. He taught a Problems in Social Science class in which students were asked to explore current issues confronting society. The in-class discussions were not going well. Mostly the students were simply regurgitating talking...

Metaphorically Speaking

Caroline Janosik began her class by saying, “I need your help. I’ve developed a new course to prepare students for the soft skills that employers are looking for in college graduates. The course is not required in any program and may not count for credit in some....

Facilitating Curiosity

Jordan Carper began her class by asking students to write down on a sheet of paper three things they were curious about. She asked this question because she believed that curiosity was an essential ingredient for learning, but she usually came away feeling a bit...

Values in Context

Greg Andrews was a contingent instructor in the Information Technology program. With 30 years of experience in designing IT systems, he had seen the good and bad uses of technology. His course was focused on the human dimensions of IT. At the beginning of the...

When Disagreement is Good

Dr. Gretchen Whitmore was in her first year of teaching an upper-level social science course. She had decided to use a student-centered discussion approach as her primary teaching strategy. She believed that students would learn the course material better if they...

Collaborative Bonds

On the first day of class Professor Alan Nelson was going over the syllabus. “One of the unique things about this class is the discussion groups you will be in throughout the semester. I’ve carefully placed you in groups and you’ll be working together throughout...

“Triple Play” Discussions in the Classroom

Consider the following imaginary scenario, in light of recent moves by a number of states to regulate what they perceive to be liberal bias in higher education. Dr. Oliver Madsen was appearing before his college’s General Education Curriculum Committee. The...