Class discussions often mirror the form of a tennis match between professor and students: Professor serves question to student, student sends answer back to professor, professor moves onto next student, and so on. Sometimes, however, it makes sense to volley continuously with one student so they might explain and expand their thinking further. Other discussions might better function as volleyball matches, where ideas are passed among students before the professor is brought back into the action. Whatever the situation calls for, one thing is clear -- how instructors respond (or refraining from responding) to students holds powerful consequences for a discussion’s flow, participation, and productivity.
How can we use our own voices more purposefully when responding to students? How do we facilitate collaborative discussion where students genuinely discuss ideas among themselves? When might we insert our own expertise in a student-centered discussion versus letting that conversation proceed uninterrupted? How can we encourage students to disagree with one another while maintaining safe, supportive, and respectful classroom communities? In this series of videos, featured professors discuss how they create the conditions for and encourage student-to-student discourse.