In-Class Discussion

Depending on the number of students enrolled in the class, students are expected to sign up to lead a discussion for the readings. The class discussion should be around 30 minutes, and it should be structured in a way that a portion of it covers one reading and the second portion covers the second reading. The class discussion lead is not expected to submit the reading commentaries for that session, but they should submit their presentation slides by 11 p.m. the night before the session, which would allow the instructor to provide feedback on the slides before the class.

Discussion Strategies

Below are some potentially helpful practices students can consider when structuring their discussion strategies:

  • Reading Summarization: Starting the discussion by briefly summarizing the readings. Each student in the class is expected to read the articles and submit their commentaries prior to the class. Therefore, the discussion lead(s) do not need to spend a lot of time summarizing the details of the readings. However, to remind the class about the readings and keep the class on the same page, it would be helpful to start by providing a summary of the critical aspects of the readings. The summary could include the goals of the reading, their methodology, and their main contributions. In the summary section, the discussion lead(s) should include any detail that they would refer to in the rest of the discussion.
  • Class Participation: The discussion lead(s) are essentially the instructors of that discussion/reading. Therefore, they are expected to get students to talk and participate in the discussion. They will have access to students' commentaries and are strongly encouraged to read through them to get inspired by some discussion prompts. If the discussion lead(s) are using some of the ideas from the students' prompts, it is a nice and good practice to credit the student who came up with that prompt. We all want to be acknowledged! :) To keep the conversation flow going, students can and are encouraged to design some in-class activities. They might decide to break students into small groups so students can discuss among themselves for a few minutes and then inform the class about their conversations. This is just one idea, but it is entirely up to the discussion lead(s) about how the discussion should look like and what in-class activities they would like to use.
  • Embrace the Teaching and Have Fun with it: Above all, the discussion lead(s) are the teachers of the discussion. They are expected to view this teaching time not as a monologue but rather as an active engagement with their class. It is super important to have fun with this role and help students feel comfortable and included in the discussions and activities.

Discussion Lead Grading

Discussion leads do not have to submit reading commentaries for the session that they are leading and their reading grade for that session will be thoroughly based on their role as the discussion lead. Below is the criteria that will be used for discussion leads' reading grade:

  • Professional: The slides are well-designed and presented. The discussion has an energetic flow, where most (if not all) students are actively engaged in it. The students' submitted commentaries were integrated into the presentation. The raised questions and comments in the discussion reflect a deep understanding of the readings and inspire new insights and perspectives on the readings.
  • Adequate: The slides are in good shape and are understandable. The discussion questions/prompts help flow the conversation but do not excite all (most) students into actively participating in the class discussion and designed activities. The students' submitted commentaries are integrated into a surface-level form without engaging with the questions in the discussion. The raised questions and insights are straightforward and do not reflect a deep understanding of the papers and critical thinking of the readings.
  • Insufficient: The slides are not thoroughly readable/understandable. Either no meaningful discussion questions/prompts are raised in the class, or they are not helpful to help the conversation flow. The students' submitted commentaries are not integrated into the discussion. The discussion drifts without a well-designed structure, or the structure introduces a lot of dead time during the discussion.