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Techniques to facilitate discussions

Approach Description Outcome
Buzz Group Students discuss course-related questions informally in small groups of peers. Generating lots of information and ideas in a short period in preparation for and improvement of class discussions.
Round Robin Students generate ideas and speak in order, moving from one student to the next. Providing students a structure to engage in brainstorming sessions and ensuring all students participate equally in a discussion.
Talking Chips Students participate in a group discussion and surrender a token each time they speak. Ensuring equitable participation during class or group discussions.
Think/Pair/Share Students think individually for a few minutes, then discuss and compare their responses with a partner, and finally, share their results with the entire class. Preparing students to participate more fully and effectively in whole-class discussions.
Three-Step Interview Students interview each other and report what they learn to another pair. Helping students network and improve listening, questioning, and communication skills.
Fishbowl Discussion* Student groups take turns discussing a given topic while being observed by the other groups. Encouraging all students to participate, reflecting on qualities of good discussions, and encouraging strong discussion and listening skills.
Small-Group Discussion* Students share ideas or opinions related to course content in groups of 3-5 people. Providing a way for students to share ideas without having to address the entire class and improving the quality of whole-class discussions by giving students a way to practice.


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 152.

*Louisiana State University. Active Learning While Physical Distancing. URL: https://go.wisc.edu/03oyks.

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