Conducting Classroom Discussions, Oct 2014

In case you haven’t heard, discussions aren’t just for literature class anymore!

Discussions about practical applications of study can be accomplished in all disciplines—even math and statistics.  Studies show that when students manipulate and interact with the facts they are learning, those facts become grounded and sink in more deeply.

Classroom discussions can take different forms, but seminar-style discussion (including Socratic questioning and the Harkness philosophy) aims at a substantive and probing analysis of a specific topic and includes issues and perspectives that will challenge students’ thinking.  This style can take some time to learn to orchestrate, but it is a valuable tool for encouraging student engagement (with one another and with texts) and higher-order, critical thinking.

Contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning for help integrating discussions in your classroom, or visit the ITL Lunchtime Seminar Schedule to sign up for the October 15th session on discussions.


Other resources:

  • Elder, Paul R. and Linda Elder, The Art of Socratic Questioning.  Foundation for Critical Thinking Press: 2007.

For more information, contact the Institute for Teaching and Learning at