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Stimulating Classroom Discussion

(Adapted from the work of Betsy Bach, The University of Montana)

  • When asking questions, wait long enough for student response (count to at least 10 very slowly). If they are having trouble, have them write an answer first before discussing it.
  • When making transitions from one class to another, ask, “What is the difference between what we learned in yesterday’s class and what you came across preparing for today?”
  • Always provide an overview of what will be done that day, explain how it is relevant to the topic at hand, and provide a summary, closure, and preview of the next day.
  • Ask, “How does this information relate to what we’ve already covered,” or “How is this information relevant to you as a communicator (or as an organizational member)?”
  • When doing mid-quarter evaluations, ask students to evaluate their own behavior in terms of their commitment o the class (e.g., how would you assess yourself at this point?) as evidenced by their involvement in class (or small group) discussion.
  • For specific suggestions, read the Frederick article in the reference.



Frederick, P. (1981). The dreaded discussion: Ten ways to start. Improving College and University Teaching, 29, 109-114.