Leading Discussions in ID1-11
One of the goals of the ID1 class is to increase your comfort with discussion, and to give you a chance
to practice your discussion skills early in college. Each person in the class will have discussions led by students
14 times during the semester. Each person must sign up during the second class period to lead one individual
When you are leading a class discussion, you need to prepare especially well. In addition to reading
the assignment, you need to generate between 5 and 10 questions for discussion, that must be emailed to the
class and the instructor by 5 PM the previous day. Try to make these questions thought-provoking and
debatable, not fact oriented. For example, use a question such as, “Was Martin Luther King more courageous
than Susan B. Anthony?" rather than a matter of fact like "What was the length of time that Gandhi and Frankl
spend imprisoned?" As the term progresses, you can have the discussion include some apt comparisons, but try
to keep much of it focused on the reading at hand. At the start of the period, you can elicit a little discussion to recapitulate the facts of the reading(s) you are dealing with. Then, you can turn to the discussion questions you
have prepared. You can simply have the class discuss the questions seriatim, you can call on someone for each
particular question (or say you will call on the next person around the table each time), or you can assign the
questions to student groups for small group discussion for 5 minutes with presentation to the whole class to follow.
You could also ask the class to choose which one(s) they would like to discuss first. It is not essential that all the
proposed questions be discussed during the period, but make sure the ones YOU find most interesting get to the
table for discussion.
In this course the discussions and discussion leading are graded; LH will be taking notes for this purpose.
Participating in discussion is graded as 8/10, highly excellent discussion is graded 10/10, attending but sitting
mumchance is graded as 6/10 (this is what I did throughout college, and I want you to find your voices earlier
than I did!), and absence is graded 0/10. See the description of grading below for more information. An excellent
discussion consists of more than one insightful comment during the class. Agreeing with another student’s point is
OK but requires that you cite additional supporting evidence to be an excellent point. Bringing up an idea or
connection that no one else seems to have thought of, especially if it provokes further discussion, is very excellent.
Discussing is a skill, and I am expecting you to improve over the semester; the standard by which you are graded
will increase gradually as you improve.