Faculty development workshops on 'Discussion as a Way of Teaching' start today

Faculty development workshops on 'Discussion as a Way of Teaching' start today

Dr. Stephen Brookfield, UST Distinguished University Professor, will lead several workshops for Faculty Development. Brookfield is co-author of Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms (Jossey-Bass/John Wiley, 2005), the text on which these workshops are based. If you attend all three workshops listed below, you will receive a copy of this book. To register, e-mail Pat Alexander.

"Getting Students to Participate in Discussion," 2:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, March 26, in Room 417, Opus Hall

Students don't speak in discussions for many reasons – a fear of looking foolish, mistrust of the teacher, racial and cultural suspicion, inadequate preparation and an introverted learning style are just some of these reasons. This workshop will explore how to get students to participate in discussion by using a number of structured discussion exercises. Participants will be introduced to and practice some of these exercises; other exercises will be contained in the workshop packet.

"Mixing Small- and Large-Group Discussion," 2:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, April 2, in Room 417, Opus Hall. Registration deadline is Thursday, March 29.

You know the scene – students have been vigorously engaged in small group discussion on a topic set by the teacher and then you bring the small groups together to continue the discussion in a whole-class format. The result is total silence. In this workshop, Brookfield will explore different ways (newsprint dialogue, quotes to affirm and challenge, structured silence, etc.) to move from small-group discussion to large-group discussion with a minimum of awkward silence.

"Dealing With Common Problems in Discussion," 2:30-3:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, in Room 450, Opus Hall. Registration deadline is Friday, April 13.

In this open-ended conversation, Brookfield will explore with participants the most common problems they face in using discussion and how to respond to these questions. Typical problems raised are: no one speaking, one or two people making 90 percent of the comments, the teacher talking too much (or too little), the discussion going way off track, people making factually or conceptually wrong statements, people giving a series of monologues rather than having an interconnected conversation, and people's ideas becoming more entrenched after a discussion that is supposed to shake up their fixed ways of thinking.  Brookfield will draw from his book on discussion in examining different responses to these situations.