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Creating Engaging Discussions


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Table of Contents

  • Quick Reference to Discussion Activities Described in this Book
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • 1) The Strengths and Challenges of Discussion
  • 2) Getting All Students Engaged
  • 3) Preventing and Responding to Common Discussion Pitfalls
  • 4) Connecting Discussion with Learning
  • 5) Gauging the Effectiveness of a Discussion
  • 6) Learning and Interpreting History through Deliberative Dialogue-Mary Jo Festle, Elon University
  • 7) How Co-Teaching and Other Strategies Promote Lively Student Engagement-Matthea Marquart and Mary Ann Drury, Columbia University
  • 8) Got Introverts? Get CAE (Collaborative Autoethnography)-Mary Shapiro, Simmons College
  • 9) Using a Contemplative Pedagogy to Promote Discussion in a First Year Seminar-Jennifer W. Shewmaker, Abilene Christian University
  • 10) Avoiding Crickets by Creating an Orchestra of Students-Billy Strean, University of Alberta
  • 11) Spicing up Students' Education: The Use of Course-Based Undergraduate Research to Foster Student Communication-Heather Townsend, Community College of Rhode Island
  • 12) Applying Students' Insights for Engaging Inquiry in a Blended Course-Janelle DeCarrico Voegele, Portland State University
  • 13) Solve Several Online Course Challenges with Student Critiques of Primary Literature-David M. Wilson, Parkland College
  • 14) Faculty Discussion Group Resources
  • References
  • About the Authors
  • Index

About the Author

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.

Linda Nilson now retired, directed three faculty development centers at major research universities during her 28-year career. She also authored several books: Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors (2016), now in its fourth edition, The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course (2007), Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students' Self-Awareness and Learning Skills (2013), Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time (2015), and, with Ludwika A. Goodson, Online Teaching at Its Best (2017).


"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
"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."-- (11/27/2017)
"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.-- (11/17/2017)

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