Discussion courses

David L. Robinson dlrobi02 at HOMER.LOUISVILLE.EDU
Mon Nov 17 23:29:05 EST 1997

   Next semester I am teaching an upper-division, undergraduate
biology course in which I want students to engage in seminar-type 
discussions. I tried it last year but felt that the
students never really did feel comfortable enough to speak freely.

   I am trying to think of some sort of game or exercise that we could
try the first week of class to break the ice. One idea is that in the
first week or so have students come to class with prepared written
comments or questions about the biological topic for that day and then
exchange them with other students anonymously. Each student then would be
asked to read someone elses comment or question aloud to the class for
us to discuss.....my theory is that students might soon realize that other
students are really not any more clever than they are about these topics
and after awhile would start begging to read their own comments instead of
someone elses. Eventually, they might not even have to write their
comments ahead of time.

   Does anyone else have a better idea on getting students to
make significant contributions to class discussion? 

Dave Robinson
Biology Dept
Bellarmine College
Louisville, KY

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