Monday, April 21, 2008

Some guidelines for discussion participation

There are a lot of examples of discussion guidelines out there...this is a good thing because learners and faculty are looking for ways to assess discussion participation. Here are a few guidelines -- a Top 10 -- I typically share with students (in conjunction with my use of inspiration/karma points, as described in Karma (or inspiration) points for discussion assessment, and discussion ground rules) --
  1. Be direct: Share comments, ideas, and suggestions directly with classmates.

  2. Be specific: When praising or commenting on others' contributions, avoid being vague. Be clear about what aspect (excerpt, portion, etc.) of the classmate's comment you are responding to. Describe how the classmate's contribution helped you understand the topic or think about the topic in a different way.

  3. Be non-attributive: Do not describe a classmate's attributes but rather describe your experience of her or his contribution – the effect that her or his contribution had on you. Use “I statements” that convey your experience of the other person’s efforts.

  4. Share knowledge and ideas:
    • Applications and examples from the workplace and community
    • Great tips and tricks
    • Unique resources such as useful website, books, blogs, articles, workshop information and/or technical work groups etc.
    • Relevant personal and professional experiences
    • Strategies, tools and problem solving skills

  5. Encourage vision: Present unique, insightful ideas, perspectives, and questions that are thought provoking and promote further discussion. Encourage new ways of thinking that makes the group see something in a new way. Disseminate new information and knowledge about the topic being discussed. Demonstrate your ability to see beyond the obvious.

  6. Contribute to group's sense of well-being and harmony: Be open to others' comments and ideas. Make statements that support and honor differences. Share thoughts and opinions with others without judgment or prejudice. Make comments that help create a healthy learning environment and inspire people to want to learn more. Make statements that mediate differences and find commonality. Make statements that lift classmates' spirits. When appropriate, share comments that draw the conversation back to the focus of the discussion topic.

  7. Demonstrate knowledge of the topic: Contribute to discussions by making comments that are insightful and informed (include resources, personal experiences with a topic, and so on).

  8. Make an extra effort to actively participate throughout the discussion, and engage classmates throughout the duration of the discussion.

  9. Offer assistance to other students, and help others who need extra explanation on a topic.

  10. Pose questions and ask for help when needed.

Related posts in this blog:
Discussion ground rules
Don’t jump into discussions
Engaging quieter online students
Small groups reporting out to the large group?
Karma (or inspiration) points for discussion assessment
Beyond debates and conversational roles (Protocols Part 1)
Structures for asynchronous online discussions (Protocols Part 2)
Structures for synchronous online discussions (Protocols Part 3)
Structures for small groups reporting out to whole group (Protocols Part 4)

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