Course Discussion: Relevance
How do you get teenage girls interested in math? Connect it to wedding planning finances.
Once you've identified specific learning objectives, focus on specific activities that stimulate critical and creative thinking. Consider the purpose of each discussion before writing discussion questions. Also keep in mind that the educational outcomes must be clear to the students.
Connect Course Goals with Relevant Discussions
Students particularly enjoy discussions that involve real-world situations, authentic resources, and practical experiences.
Use the following ideas to help you build meaningful, relevant discussions:
Activate. Motivate learners. Use discussion as a catalyst to generate interest in a new topic. Help students see the excitement and energy that can be found in a subject. For example, show the enthusiasm of mathematicians.
Communicate. Use connections to course content to share ideas, personal perspectives, or shared experiences.
Connect. Provide a context or establish a connection. Bring relevance to the discussion by using a "real world" situation or example.
Critique. Critically evaluate an idea or perspective by using examples to support a position. Many of these examples can be found in professional blogs.
Deepen. Add depth to a learning situation by providing a detailed explanation, thoughtful observation, or new resource that provides additional information or insights. For example, use a law blog to learn more about law and ethics or use an author blog to explore issues in creative writing.
Evidence. Provide resources that students might use as evidence in justifying a perspective, solving a problem, or making a decision.
Expand. Broaden thinking by providing an alternative perspective or different point of view. For example, use readings from different countries to examine cultural differences.
Fresh Look. Use discussion starters to provide current, immediately relevant examples. For example, get the latest science or fashion news.
Inform. Provide primary sources or data that help explain an idea already presented. For example, you can track earthquakes and volcanoes. Consider a statistic or graph that illustrates a point.
Inference. Involve students in resources that can be used to facilitate problem solving and inference.
Launch. Use focal points as a place for stimulating new, innovative ideas. Be the first to present a new idea rather than simply commenting on the work of others. Ask questions to keep the new idea going.
Organize. You may provide resources you wish student to organize. They may categorize, sequence, or create a hierarchy.
Storytell. Involve learners in telling or retelling a story. They may be providing narration, reviewing the steps in a process, or describing events.
Synthesize. Bring a number of ideas together. For example, consolidate these comments and draw a new conclusion.
Teaching. Involve learners in teaching others through demonstrations, mentoring, or sharing course content.
Design meaningful, relevant discussions that require critical and creative thinking.
Focus on assignments that involve real-world situations, authentic resources, and practical experiences.
Working your way down the list of ideas above, brainstorm a few discussion ideas associated with learning objectives you have identified.