Instructional design/Discussion Roles

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Introduction and Learning Objectives

Contents

Introduction[edit]

This lesson introduces the Discussion Approach to Instruction theory, in particular the concept of "shared responsibility." Learners can anticipate completing this lesson in about 20 minutes; successful completion of this lesson means that the learner meets the key learning objectives stated below.

Key Learning Objectives[edit]

At the completion of this Wikiversity module, learners will meet the following performance objectives:

  • When given a set of sample contracts, learners will be able to exclude any contracts whose terms contain non-examples of either instructor or student roles in a discussion-approach classroom.
    • Given scenarios of instructor behavior in a discussion-approach classroom, learners will identify examples and non-examples of learner roles.
    • Given scenarios of learner behavior in a discussion-approach classroom, learners will identify examples and non-examples of instructor roles.


What is the value of a Discussion Approach to Instruction?

If you're new to the Discussion Approach to Instruction theory, you may be wondering how it will benefit you and your learners. This brief video will explain!


Overview of "Shared Responsibility"

Congratulations on taking the first step to incorporating a Discussion Approach to Instruction in your classroom! The remainder of this lesson will be focused on one of the core tenets of discussion-based learning, "Shared Responsibility." In this next video, we will define "Shared Responsibility" and place it within the context of the other six key principles of the Discussion Approach. Defining "Shared Responsibility" is a fundamental next step in this lesson, because our discussion of instructor and learner roles grows out of our understanding of this term, as does the necessity for creating a contract that defines these roles for all members of the class.


What is the role of the instructor in a Discussion-Approach classroom?

What to Look for When Reading Through Examples and Non-Examples[edit]

Examples of Instructor Roles[edit]

As you learned in the Shared Responsibility Overview video, the instructor has the responsibility to initiate a Discussion Approach to Instruction by first outlining and modeling behaviors that will facilitate a discussion-based learning approach. For this reason, you should first focus your attention on the left-hand column of the following table and familiarize yourself with examples of appropriate instructor behaviors and practices.

As you can see from this list of instructor behaviors and practices, the overarching role of the instructor is to provide a framework for the class session (Preparing for Discussion); to encourage the generation of ideas through collaborative and interactive conversation (Facilitating the Discussion); and to encourage continued learner reflection beyond the end of the class (Facilitating Learning Post-Discussion). As you read through these examples, you may find that you already incorporate some of these behaviors and practices as a part of your natural approach to instruction; however, it is important to view these attributes not as separate pieces, but as cumulative components that create an environment of inclusiveness, respect, and sharing.

That being said, it is the essence of each of these roles that is important, not the exact wording or breakdown of these behaviors and practices exactly as they are displayed here. For the purposes of enumerating these roles for this lesson, each bullet point in the list below is intentionally limited to a single behavior or practice; when you draft a contract with your learners for your own classroom, you are free to combine one or more of these roles into a more complex statement; or to write a prose statement that incorporates these roles; or to specifically juxtapose examples with corresponding non-examples to highlight the differences between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors; or to otherwise rearrange these roles into a format that best suits your personal approach or style.

Non-Examples of Instructor Roles[edit]

A review of non-examples is just as important to an understanding of the instructor's role in a Discussion Approach classroom, so, after studying the examples, take a look at the right-hand column of the table below and read through the list of instructor behaviors and practices that would not be acceptable when using this theory. Knowing what not to do when using a discussion-based approach can be especially helpful for the self-assessment of your practice because if you realize you are embodying a non-example role, it should instantly alert you to a flaw in your approach. For this reason, you can't simply focus on what you should do, you must be aware of any signs that point to a deviation into unproductive or class-inhibiting behaviors.

Examples and Non-Examples of Instructor Roles[edit]

Examples[edit]

Non-Examples[edit]

Preparing for Discussion[edit]

  • With the learners, create a set of ground rules for class discussion.
  • Plan for each session, including session goals; share these goals with learners.
  • Arrange the classroom to facilitate interactions between all members of the class.
  • Encourage learner thought or analysis on a topic by assigning short in-class writing or prewrites.
  • Break students into small groups to brainstorm or generate new ideas before reconvening.

Facilitating the Discussion[edit]

  • Use learner’s preferred names.
  • Call on ALL learners.
  • Listen carefully to what is said and reply consistently, but not necessarily to each learner.
  • Be willing to let the conversation flow from peer-to-peer without interjecting.
  • Allow for periods of silence following a question.
  • Rephrase a question following a period of silence rather than answering the question.
  • Pose open-ended questions.
  • Pose follow-up questions that require further explanation, clarification, or analysis.
  • Show appreciation for all contributions by highlighting a contribution's most valuable point.
  • Stay on topic.
  • Summarize ideas throughout the session.

Facilitating Learning Post-Discussion[edit]

  • Ask students to summarize the discussion at the end or after each class session.

Preparing for Discussion[edit]

  • Arranging or keeping the classroom in rows where students can only see the instructor.
  • Providing all content for the class.
  • Failing to provide a set of expectations or goals for class discussion.

Facilitating the Discussion[edit]

  • Providing an answer to a posed question if no answer is supplied by the learners.
  • Allowing inadequate periods of silence in which students are expected to respond.
  • Posing “yes or no” questions or questions with a single correct response.
  • Accepting superficial answers if they are correct in essentials.
  • Proceeding after a response without asking for further explanation or clarification.
  • Responding personally after every learner response.
  • Discouraging peer-to-peer response.


Practice recognizing the role of the instructor in a Discussion Approach classroom

Now that you have read through the examples and non-examples of instructor behavior in a Discussion Approach classroom, try the practice examples, below, to see if you are able to classify the scenarios described as either examples or non-examples. When you have made your selections, click the "submit" button and self-assess your results by observing any incorrect responses and reading through the feedback.[edit]

1

On the first day of class, the instructor circulates a brief questionnaire to gather some personal information, including preferred name or nickname. He uses this information to identify each student during discussion.

Example
Non-Example

2

The instructor makes sure the classroom is set up so that all learners face the front of the room where the instructor sits.

Example
Non-Example

3

The instructor will pose a question and let students respond until the correct answer is given.

Example
Non-Example

4

Each class session begins with the instructor posting the session goals.

Example
Non-Example

5

After a learner has made a contribution to the discussion, the instructor always responds directly to that learner.

Example
Non-Example

6

When an interval of 30 seconds has passed after the instructor poses a question, she will simply answer the question to keep the discussion moving.

Example
Non-Example


After completing the self-assessment, click "Refresh" before proceeding[edit]


What is the role of the learner in a Discussion Approach classroom?

What to Look for When Reading Through Examples and Non-Examples[edit]

Examples of Learner Roles[edit]

Now that you have reviewed the role you will play as an instructor in a Discussion Approach classroom, you must also become versed in the learner role. Though the learner will be responsible for carrying out his or her own role in the discussion-based classroom, you must still educate your learners on the expected behavior through a discussion in the initial class session and a collaborative drafting of the classroom contract. As with the table that featured the instructor roles, you should first focus your attention on the left-hand column of the following table and familiarize yourself with examples of appropriate learner behaviors.

As you learned from the instructor role section and accompanying table, your objectives are to provide a framework for the class session; to encourage collaboration and interaction; and to encourage continued learner reflection beyond the end of the class. The learner, on the other hand, must focus on operating within these parameters and fully participating within the frame of the class to facilitate the discussion. As with the instructor table, the learner roles should also be seen as cumulative components that add up to learners who are prepared, respectful, and arrive expecting to contribute and to remain engaged.

When creating the contract, it is expected that these learner roles, like the instructor roles, will be distilled and reconfigured to fit the specific necessities of your class.

Non-Examples of Learner Roles[edit]

Again, don't neglect to review non-examples of the learner's role: not only should you be familiar with non-examples in case you need to mentor a learner about his or her behavior, but you need to be able to communicate what is an inappropriate behavior or practice to your learners when setting ground rules and creating the contract. A thorough understanding of non-examples will help you and your students assess, or self-assess, unproductive or class-inhibiting behaviors.

Examples[edit]

Non-Examples[edit]

Preparing for Discussion[edit]

  • With the instructor, create a set of ground rules for class discussion.
  • Come to class with initial assignments complete.
  • Participate in short in-class writing or prewriting assignments to prepare for discussion.
  • Participate in small groups to brainstorm or generate new ideas for full-class discussion.

Participating in the Discussion[edit]

  • Use the preferred names of peers.
  • Participate and provide input on a regular basis.
  • Expect to be called on regularly.
  • Listen carefully to what is being said and reply to both the instructor and peers.
  • Upon request, learners will clarify or rephrase responses that are unclear to the class.
  • Respect the contributions of all members of the class.
  • Respect the right of everyone to speak and to speak without interruption.
  • Stay on topic.
  • Expect to be able to summarize the discussion at any given point during the class session.

Facilitating Learning Post-Discussion[edit]

  • Expect to be able to summarize the discussion as a whole at the end or after each class session.

Preparing for Discussion[edit]

  • Neglecting preparatory assignments.
  • Arriving at class unprepared.
  • Expecting to be provided with content.

Facilitating the Discussion[edit]

  • Expecting to be provided with answers.
  • Not responding to prompts from the instructor.
  • Responding only to the instructor.
  • Disrespecting or belittling a peer's input or response.
  • Interrupting a peer when he or she is speaking.
  • Going off topic when given the opportunity to speak.
  • Not listening to comments made by the instructor and by peers.
  • Inability to summarize the discussion that is occurring/has occurred in the session.


Practice recognizing the role of the learner in a discussion approach classroom

Now that you have read through the examples and non-examples of learner behavior in a Discussion Approach classroom, try the following practice examples to see if you are able to classify the scenarios described below as either examples or non-examples. When you have made your selections, click the "submit" button and self-assess your results by observing any incorrect responses and reading through the feedback.[edit]

1

The learner arrives at class having read the assigned materials and completed a pre-writing assignment.

Example
Non-Example

2

At the mid-point of the semester, the learner consistently uses phases like, “I want to add to what the guy in the blue shirt said.”

Example
Non-Example

3

The learner begins rebutting another student’s contribution before that student has completed her argument on a key point.

Example
Non-Example

4

When the learner sees that the point she has made in contribution to the discussion is unclear to her peers, she rephrases her thoughts.

Example
Non-Example

5

The learner looks forward to the first ten minutes of class when he works in a small group with two other students because this helps him formulate his thoughts for the full-class discussion.

Example
Non-Example

6

The learner often rolls her eyes or smirks when some of her peers make contributions to the discussion.

Example
Non-Example

After completing the self-assessment, click "Refresh" before proceeding[edit]


Final Practice: Select the learning contract(s) that represent examples of a Discussion Approach to Learning

Assessing your Knowledge of Both Instructor and Learner Roles[edit]

Now that you have practiced identifying both instructor and learner roles separately, it is time to complete the final assessment, which is to identify which of the following contracts contain only examples of appropriate instructor and learner roles, and which contain one or more non-examples. When you have completed the assessment, click the submit button to review the correct answers and feedback.[edit]

1

Sample Contract 1

As Instructor, I will...[edit]

As a Learner, I will...[edit]

  • …allow the conversation to organically evolve and change direction depending on whatever topics are introduced.
  • …wait for learners to respond to open-ended prompts.
  • …show appreciation for all responses; respect a learner’s right to offer any opinion.
  • …encourage the discussion to flow between learners.
  • …arrive at class prepared to discuss any topic that arises.
  • …expect to provide answers to open-ended prompts posed by the instructor.
  • …respect the contributions of all members of the class.
  • …respect the right of everyone to provide an answer.

Example
Non-Example

2

Sample Contract 2

Classroom Basics[edit]

  • All desks should be arranged in a circle; first arrivals to class should begin arranging desks if they are not already in a circular format.
  • All class members promise to arrive prepared and ready to interact with others.
  • A session plan will be posted.

Instructor Role[edit]

Learner Role[edit]

  • The instructor will interact with all learners on an individual basis, including using preferred names.
  • The instructor will facilitate a discussion by refraining from posing closed-ended questions, allowing adequate time for silence before rephrasing questions, and asking learners to follow-up responses with further explanation and clarification.
  • The instructor will always be ready to respond to a student, but will refrain while positive and productive peer-to-peer discussing is occurring.
  • The instructor will encourage summary of ideas throughout the class and following each class session.
  • Learners will interact with all members of the class on an individual basis, including using the preferred names of all class members.
  • Learners will expect to participate actively, including responding directly to the instructor, as well as to peers.
  • Learners will respect the responses of all members of the class by refraining from speaking over any other individual and responding to others in a positive, affirming manner.
  • Learners will expect to be asked to summarize the discussion at any point during the session, as well as in a personally reflective way following the class session.

Example
Non-Example

3

Sample Contract 3

Instructor[edit]

Learner[edit]

I acknowledge that my perspective and voice is one among many in this class. I promise to respect the life experiences of every learner in the class and to promote the flow of ideas not only between myself and each learner, but also between learners. To facilitate this exchange of ideas and perspectives, I promise to regulate the flow of discussion only in so far to ensure that all participants have equal opportunities for the expression of their ideas and that we have adequate time to cover the topics outlined in the session plan. In this class environment, silence is an attribute and a space within which all learners can generate ideas and formulate the means for expression: I will honor this silence by allowing adequate time for reflection before expecting a response.

I acknowledge that my perspective and voice is one among many in this class. I promise to respect the life experiences of every learner in the class and to promote the flow of ideas not only between myself and the instructor, but also between myself and other learners. To facilitate this exchange of ideas and perspectives, I promise to participate regularly with my own insights and perspectives, as well as to respect the right of others in the class to also have an equal opportunity to express their own ideas. I will respect the period of silence following a question as a space within which I can generate ideas and formulate the means for expression: I will honor this silence by using the time as a period of active reflection, which, in turn, will promote further discussion.

Example
Non-Example

4

Sample Contract 4

Guidelines for a Discussion Approach Classroom:[edit]

  • The learners and the instructor will interact during every class period.
  • Learners will come to class expecting to respond to questions posed by the instructor.
  • Instructors will respond to every learner who makes a comment during the class session.
  • All members of the class will stay on topic.
  • All members of the class will expect to be able to summarize the ongoing discussion at any point in time.
  • All members of the class will be open to rephrasing or clarifying questions or statements as needed, if what they have said is not clear to any other member of the class.
  • Respect will be given to any member of the class who is speaking.
  • All members of the class will be given an equal opportunities to speak and/or respond.

Example
Non-Example


Summarizing the Lesson

In completing this lesson, you have been exposed to the basics of a Discussion Approach to Instruction format and have had extensive review and practice with both instructor and learner roles. In completing the final assessment, you have been provided with two examples of different types of effective contracts, as well as two non-examples that serve to illustrate the short-comings of a contract that includes behaviors or practices that would have a negative impact on this type of approach. In comparing these contracts to the roles that were described earlier in the lesson and determining which contain non-examples of instructor roles, learner roles, or both, you have shown your ability to classify these attributes in order to identify the most appropriate contract. If you identified any of these contracts incorrectly, hopefully the feedback was productive for your further understanding and now that you know which contracts can be identified as examples, you are free to use these as models for your own classroom.

Works Cited[edit]

Gibson, J.T. (2009). Discussion Approach to Instruction. In C.M. Reigeluth & A.A. Carr-Chellman (Eds.), Instructional-Design Theories and Models. Building a Common Knowledge Base (Vol III) (pp. 99 - 116). New York, NY: Routledge.

Additional Resources[edit]