Discussion is a regular part of undergraduate and graduate education. There's a simple recipe:
Step 1: everyone reads a text.
Step 2: everyone gets together to talk about that text.
In my experiences as a student and an instructor, that simply recipe can yield varying and often mediocre results. As a student, I remember anxiously waiting for instructors to cut off talkative bloviators and trying to guess what the heck was in my instructor's head. As an instructor, I have anxiously poured over papers to try to figure out which questions will elicit responses from my quieter students and how to get everyone interested in old, poorly written academic articles. In both roles, I have been spent lifetimes waiting for someone, anyone to respond to questions.
Partly because I complained about poor discussions as a student, I have faced this format with reluctance as an instructor. I have tried lots of different ways to shake things up. This semester, I finally felt like I got the conversation going.
Bree is an Alaskan Archaeologist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming.