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 lead by students 18 times during the semester.  Each person must sign up during the second class period to lead one individual discussion.  Groups will be assigned to lead the other discussions we will have.

             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 Darwin more religious than Mendel?” rather than a question like, “Where did Darwin reside?”  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 7/10 (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.