Discussion guidelines

Guidelines for Student-led Class Discussions | pdf

During six or seven class meetings this semester, groups of 2-3 students will be responsible for facilitating the class discussion of the assigned readings and the topics and issues they raise. Groups will be assigned and scheduled during the first month of class meetings. Groups will use the course website to post summaries and discussion questions in advance of their assigned discussion day. Your instructor will also participate in student-led discussions.

Facilitators’ responsibilities

By 10 p.m. the night before the assigned discussion day:

  • Each group will post a brief summary (at least 150 words) of the assigned readings or viewings
  • Each group will post a minimum of 5 related questions aimed at generating thoughtful class discussion. You may want to focus some of your questions on specific sections of the readings/viewings.

In class:

  • Lead discussion for at least 15 minutes, actively soliciting participation from the class and connecting responses and answers to the questions you posted on the course website.

Guidelines for students assigned to lead the day’s discussion: As discussion facilitators, your role is to highlight issues raised by the assigned readings and offer questions that stimulate a thoughtful discussion on the topics covered by the readings. You are welcome to use the computer to show websites or slides.

Guidelines for students participating in the day’s discussion: You are responsible for being prepared to participate actively in the discussion and for reading ALL assigned readings before coming to class. Review the summary and discussion questions posted by the facilitators before coming to class and please bring a printed copy of the readings to class to refer to during discussion. You will be responsible for locating supplemental material to incorporate into the discussion during class, classroom technology permitting.

Both leading and participating in the discussion is a significant part of your class participation grade (15% of your total grade) and is NOT optional.

Note: This is a collaborative exercise, so all group members will receive the same grade. Grading chart for group work:

0-1 points 2-3 points 4-5 points
Group posts an incomplete or irrelevant summary of some but not all of the assigned readings; or group’s summary is posted after the deadline. Group summary  discusses some but not all of the readings, or summary misses important points of the readings. Group summary is well-written and tightly focused on all of the assigned readings discusses; summary is posted before the deadline.
Group posts 2 or fewer discussion questions, or posts questions after the deadline. Group posts 3-4 discussion questions before the deadline, or questions lack focus or relevance. Group posts 5 or more focused, relevant questions on course site by the deadline.
One or more group members are absent or do not participate in facilitating discussion. Facilitation and participation is not evenly distributed among group members; facilitators do not acknowledge classmates’ contributions. All group members effectively direct class discussion, asking questions, facilitating dialogue, and acknowledging all participants’ contributions respectfully.


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