1st Edition

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

By Jennifer H. Herman, Linda B. Nilson Copyright 2018
    202 Pages
    by Routledge

    202 Pages
    by Routledge

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    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.

    Quick Reference to Discussion Activities Described in This Book Foreword—Stephen D. Brookfield Preface Acknowledgements 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 References About the Authors and Contributors Index


    Jennifer H. Herman is Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Associate Professor of Practice in Education at Simmons College and develops and facilitates research-based faculty development opportunities around teaching and scholarship and provides structured support for curriculum design at all levels. She has been a grant co-PI or curriculum designer on many high-impact initiatives, including open-source assessment modules for NILOA, programs for the U.S. Department of State, the New York State Small Business Development Center’s online Entreskills program, and a STEM teaching institute for Harvard Medical School, as well as course design institutes and inclusive excellence seminars. Herman received her Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University at Buffalo and her M.A. in International Training and Education from American University. Linda B. Nilson is founding director emeritus of the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation (OTEI) at Clemson University and author of Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors, now in its fourth edition. Stephen D. Brookfield is Distinguished Scholar at Antioch University, Adjunct Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Professor Emeritus at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota). He has written, co-written or edited nineteen books on adult learning, teaching, critical thinking, discussion methods, critical theory, leadership, and teaching race, six of which have won the Houle World Award for Literature in Adult Education. His academic appointments have included positions at the University of British Columbia, Teachers College Columbia University (New York), Harvard University and the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

    "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

    "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

    "Creating Engaging Discussions examines one of the most challenging parts of teaching—designing and managing discussion activities that engage students while contributing meaningfully to their learning. Faculty members will love the way the book addresses their common instructional challenges with a mix of evidence-based principles, use-it-on-Monday activities, and in-depth case studies. Educational developers will appreciate its scholarly background and suggestions for using the book within reading groups and workshops. A must-have addition for your bookshelf.

    Greg Siering, PhD, Director, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

    Indiana University Bloomington

    "Like many of Nilson’s previous books, this one is packed with information. As a practitioner, it is tempting to grab one or more of the discussion activities referenced in the quick guide at the front of the book and then return the book to the shelf. Doing so is a mistake precisely because of one of the ideas this book successfully advances: the need to align discussion content and process with course learning goals. This emphasis on alignment is one of my main learnings from the book, and one I will need to keep pondering and experimenting with. Each teacher must consider her course content, delivery system, institutional objectives and constraints, and student population in wisely selecting and applying discussion tactics to her particular circumstances."

    Reflective Teaching