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Discusion: The Student View

“Typically,” writes one student, “she will pose a question about something, and we will sit there for a few seconds. We aren’t exactly eager to answer immediately, but when called on, we say what we think.”  Another describes it this way: “We give a summary of what the reading was about and then we start to analyze it more by looking at the true meaning of the work and how it relates to the world.”

These responses came from an anonymous survey I created to get the student view of what goes on in class discussions.  I asked for a description and then asked some multiple choice questions.  At the end I asked students to respond to an excerpt from my previous blog post, i.e. my own description of class discussion.  I was a little worried about that last question.  Sometimes teachers and students can be in the same room but on different planets!   To my relief, the students overwhelmingly found my description accurate.  Thus I feel ready to go forward with the project of figuring out how to replace discussion in teaching online.

Here’s one more comment: “I like the class discussions because it makes me fully understand whats going on with whatever we had to read. It also makes me change my opinion about some of the readings.”  And since Survey Monkey can make colorful charts from multiple choice responses, I’ll include one here.  It shows that 72% of responders said that students generate most or all of the meaning in discussion–I like that!

Student contributions to discussion

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  1. Deborah Marion
    January 22, 2014 at 5:17 am

    In a perfect classroom, I think the teacher would serve merely as a “traffic director” at least 75% of the time. It looks like you’re doing something right.

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