Using Discussion in the Learning Process Amy Heck Sheehan, Pharm'D' Associate Professor, Purdue Univ - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Using Discussion in the Learning Process Amy Heck Sheehan, Pharm'D' Associate Professor, Purdue Univ


Using Discussion in the Learning Process. Amy Heck Sheehan, Pharm.D. ... Ask for clarification; request examples. Pause and give time for students to reflect ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Using Discussion in the Learning Process Amy Heck Sheehan, Pharm'D' Associate Professor, Purdue Univ

Using Discussion in the Learning Process
Amy Heck Sheehan, Pharm.D. Associate Professor,
Purdue University October 22nd, 2008
  • Understand the importance of discussion as a
    learning approach
  • List the strengths and weaknesses of using
    discussion as a teaching method
  • Describe important considerations in preparing
    and conducting small group discussions
  • Evaluate the use of discussion in a small group
  • List a variety of methods to employ small group
    discussion within a lecture

Why Use Discussion?
  • Concentration during lectures declines after 10
    to 15 minutes
  • Students learn best by doing
  • Makes class more interesting
  • Establishes rapport among students teacher

Strengths of Discussion
  • Provides immediate feedback about student
  • Helps attain higher order cognitive objectives
  • Students actively participate in learning
  • Develops motivation for further learning

Weaknesses of Discussion
  • Difficult to get participation
  • Not suited for covering large amounts of
  • More time consuming than lecture
  • Requires more forethought than lecture
  • Instructor has less control

When Discussion May Not Work
  • Extremely large class size
  • Highly technical information
  • Large body of information
  • Classroom environment not conducive
  • No rapport between professor and students
  • Students uncomfortable expressing opinions

Types of Classroom Discussion
  • QA Session Instructor asks question and the
    students answer
  • Open Discussion Instructor asks question and
    students discuss among themselves
  • Organized Small Groups Students divided into
    groups and each group is given a topic and time

Designing the Activity
  • Use random selection to assign groups
  • Assign 6 to 12 students to each group
  • Change the group composition each time
  • Appropriate accommodations
  • Set ground rules for discussion
  • Define the exact goal and set a time limit

  • Create the expectation of participation
  • Assign group roles (group leader, recorder,
    reporter, etc)
  • Clarify how participation will influence grade
  • Give students discussion topic in advance
  • Give students time to warm up

Acting as a Group Facilitator
  • - Be prepared!
  • Allow for pauses and silence (count to 10)
  • Avoid the urge to lecture (count to 10)
  • Keep discussion focused on basic question
  • Involve all students in discussion (call them my

Acting as a Group Facilitator
  • Show enthusiasm
  • Observe group dynamics
  • Keep track of time
  • Test group consensus
  • Provide a summary at the end

Questioning Strategies
  • Start with easier factual questions
  • Use open-ended questions
  • Avoid calling on the same person
  • Acknowledge contributions (even
    if it is wrong)
  • Eye contact

Questioning Strategies
  • If students dont reply…….
  • Rephrase question
  • Provide an example or scenario, then ask again
  • Ask commitment question
  • Have students write down answer, then share it
  • Ask for clarification request examples
  • Pause and give time for students to reflect

Questioning Strategies
  • If there is a discussion monopolizer…….
  • Redirect questioning to another student
  • Assign as a discussion observer
  • Assign as the group reporter or recorder
  • Audiotape the discussion
  • Talk to the individual outside of class

Using Discussion in Lecture
  • Thumbs up/Thumbs down
  • Formative Quizzes
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Turn to your Partner during lecture
  • Buzz Groups
  • Role-Playing to illustrate a concept
  • Pairs Develop an Outline of Lecture

  • McKeachie WJ. Facilitating discussion posing
    problems, listening, and questioning. In
    McKeachies Teaching Tips Strategies, Research,
    and Theory for College and University Teachers.
    11th Ed. Boston, MA Houghton Mifflin Company
  • Developing the Teaching Instinct. The Educational
    Development Unit. Scottish Council for
    Postgraduate Medical Education. Available at
  • Accessed October 22, 2008.
  • Jaques D. Teaching small groups. BMJ
  • Purdue University Center for Instructional
    Excellence. Available at http//www.cie.purdue.ed
    u/ Accessed October 22, 2008.