What makes a good class discussion

WGST 101, Fall 2014
Summary of your suggestions.
KEY THEMES:
MUTUAL RESPECT was the big concern and value. How?
– Practice active listening.
– Communicate listening and hearing by linking to previous comment
– Challenge ideas rather than people
– Avoid interrupting someone mid-thought
– Allowing those trying to get into the conversation the space to do so.
INCLUSIVE DIALOGUE came up in several ways.
– Can try to ensure everyone has a chance to participate by shifting norms of turn-taking (raising hands; stacking);
– Facilitator and others can ensure a mixed pace. We have different communication styles. In a dynamic class discussion, those who need time to organize their thoughts may be marginalized when pace is too quick.
– Everyone has to be willing to step up (and to step back when your point has been made)
GOOD DISCUSSIONS move our understanding forward.
– Students suggested having an open mind and being willing to question one’s own perspective.
– Some talked about appreciating when they find themselves thinking about a conversation well after it’s ended.
– Dr. Marsh emphasized that having done the readings and thought about them is critical to having constructive discussions. We don’t have to be “right” or always understand clearly everything that we are reading.
The class shared a general agreement that, because we have some difficult topics to discuss, our serious attention to mutual respect and inclusion is critical to a classroom environment in which we are willing to put our ideas out there.

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