Providing multiple ways for students to engage in class discussion

Class discussions don’t only have to take place within the four walls of the classroom. Establishing resources and platforms to continue discussions outside of class can help students extend their learning and feel more engaged with your course. In this video, Tina Grotzer discusses how she uses online discussion boards and in-person meetings to make sure all of her students get the chance to have their questions answered and feel seen as members of the class community. 


Tina Grotzer, Principal Research Scientist in Education

Student Group



Harvard Graduate School of Education


Applying Cognitive Science to Teaching and Learning

Group Size

35 students

  • Consider where in your lesson you can make links to your out-of-class resources and vice versa. For example, you could prompt students to share their takeaways or questions on a discussion thread or bring highlights from the discussion thread into the classroom. Making connections between in-class discussions and those that take place outside of the classroom can further connect both discussion outlets. 
  • When developing class discussion resources for outside the classroom, it helps to think through the various needs and learning styles of the students in your class. How can outside of class resources help answer their questions and make all students feel heard? 
  • Find ways to meet with students outside of class to answer their questions and engage in ways that feel authentic to you. That could mean regular office hours, section, lunchtime meetings, or out-of-class events. 
  • In-class instructor communication style is linked to student engagement outside of the classroom. Student perceptions of instructors as supportive and inclusive is predictive of students’ out-of-class communication (Myers et al., 2005). 
  • Grasha provides a comprehensive guide on teaching styles that could help instructors refine their interactions with students outside of class and one-on-one (2002).