Tips for class discussion:

  • Do the readings ahead of time
  • Have the readings accessible during discussion
  • Come prepared with your printed Integration Paper
  • Highlight passages that you believe are worthy of discussion
  • Think of the major points or problems in the text
  • What questions do you have about the readings?
  • Use relevant examples/cases in the text to illustrate your points
  • Make a list of questions you think would be interesting discussion prompts

In this class, students help one another understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in a text through a group discussion format. Students are responsible for facilitating group discussion around the ideas in the text; they shouldn’t use the discussion to assert their opinions or prove an argument. Through this method, students talk with each other, not just to the discussion leader. Through this type of discussion, students practice how to listen to one another, make meaning, and find common ground while participating in a conversation.

Prompts for Class Discussion

Questions that probe CONCEPTUAL understandings:

  • Why do you say that?
  • How does this relate to our discussion?
  • What do you mean by?
  • How does ____ relate to ____?
  • Is your basic point ____ or ____?
  • Let me see if I understand you; do you mean ____ or ____?
  • How does this relate to our discussion/problem/issue?
  • Could you give us an example?
  • Would this be an example: ____?
  • Could you explain further?
  • Can you find a more precise term for ____?

Questions that probe ASSUMPTIONS:

  • What do we already know about…?
  • What are we/you assuming?
  • What could we assume instead?
  • You seem to be assuming ____.
  • Do I understand you correctly?
  • How can you verify or disapprove that assumption?
  • Could you explain why you arrived at that conclusion? (Explain how…)
  • What would happen if…?
  • You seem to be assuming ____. How would you justify taking this for granted?
  • Why would someone make this assumption?
  • Do you agree or disagree with this statement…?

Questions that probe REASONS AND EVIDENCE for a position:

  • What would be an example?
  • What is…. analogous to?
  • What do you think causes this to happen…? Why?
  • What evidence is there to support your answer?
  • How do you/we know?
  • Why do you think that is true?
  • Do we have any evidence for that?
  • What are your reasons for saying that?
  • What other information do we need?
  • Could you explain your reasons to us?
  • Are these reasons adequate?
  • Why did you say that?
  • What led you to that belief?
  • How does that apply to this case?
  • What would change your mind?
  • Is there a reason to doubt that evidence?
  • What would you say to someone who said ____?
  • By what reasoning did you come to that conclusion?
  • How could we find out whether that is true?

Questions about PERSPECTIVES.

  •  You seem to be approaching this from ____ perspective.
  • Why have you chosen this rather than another perspective?
  • How would other groups/types of people respond? Why? What would influence them?
  • How could you answer the objection that ____ would make?
  • What might someone who believed ____ think?
  • Can/did anyone see this another way?
  • How would people from different ethnic or racial groups view this ________?
  • How would people from different socioeconomic backgrounds be affected by ________?
  • How would people who differ in age or gender react to _________?
  • What other perspectives can you imagine?
  • Which identities/perspectives are you most or least aware of, and why?
  • How do you think the author’s identity/point of view influence the text?

Questions that probe CONSEQUENCES of a position:

  • When you say ____, are you implying ____?
  • But if that happened, what else would happen as a result? Why?
  • What effect would that have?
  • Would that necessarily happen or only probably happen?
  • If we disagree, what consequences could result?
  • If this and this is the case, then what else must also be true?
  • Would any implication or result cause you to think differently?
  • What generalizations can you make?
  • What are the consequences of that assumption?
  • What are you implying?
  • How does…affect…?
  • How does…tie in with what we learned before?
  • Why is this significance of this?
  • What are the broader implications of _________?
  • What patterns or themes emerge from _________?
  • What can be extrapolated or extended from this?

Questions about the QUESTION:

  • What was the point of this question?
  • Why do you think I asked this question?
  • What does…mean?
  • How does…apply to everyday life?

Questions to WRAP UP discussion:

  • Where did we start? Where did we end up?
  • How does today’s discussion relate to last week’s discussion?
  • What new ideas were brought forth?
  • What conclusions have we drawn so far?
  • What part of the discussion was confusing?
  • What part of the discussion was surprising?
  • What evidence did you see of people actively listening and building on others’ ideas?
  • How has your understanding of this text been affected by the ideas explored here?
  • What parts of the discussion did you find most interesting?
  • In what parts were you least engaged?
  • What would you like to do differently as a participant the next time you are in a seminar?
  • What will we take from this as we move forward?
  • What should we focus on next?