In-Class Discussion

Depending on the number of students enrolled in the class, each student is expected to sign up to lead a class discussion for one or two readings. This 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. If you are the lead of one of the readings in a session, you are not expected to submit the commentaries for that reading. However, you are expected to submit the commentaries for the other reading which you are not leading in the session. Additionally, you should submit your presentation slides by 10 p.m. the night before the session, which would allow me to provide feedback on your slides before the class. As a discussion lead of a session, you will also be responsible for grading the submitted commentaries for that session.

Discussion Strategies

Below are some potentially helpful practices you can consider when structuring your discussion strategies:

  • Reading Summarization: Start 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, as a discussion lead, you 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. Your summary could include the goals of the reading, their methodology, and their main contributions. If there are points in the readings that you would refer to in the rest of the discussion, make sure to explain them clearly in your summary.
  • Class Participation: As the discussion lead, you are the instructor of that discussion/reading. Therefore, you are expected to get students to talk and participate in the discussion. You will have access to students' commentaries, and you are encouraged to read through them to get inspired by some discussion prompts. If you 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, you can design some in-class activities. You might decide to break students into small groups so they can discuss among themselves for a few minutes and then inform the class about their conversations. This is just one idea, but it is up to you what in-class activities you would like to have.
  • Embrace the Teaching and Have Fun with it: Above all, you are the teacher of the discussion. You are expected to view this teaching time not as a monologue but rather as an active engagement with your class. It is super important to have fun with your role and help students feel comfortable and included in the discussions and activities.

Discussion Lead Grading

As a discussion lead, you do not have to submit reading commentaries for the session that you are leading. Indeed, your reading grade for that session will be thoroughly based on your role as the discussion lead. I will consider the following criteria when assigning your 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. Each Professional is an extra 0.25 points.
  • 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. Each Insufficient is minus 0.25 points.