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A brief guide to class discussion

Language & Country of the resource



A brief guide to Class discussion

Link to the resource and/or reference to the authors / source of origin

The University of Newcastle Australia Centre for Teaching and Learning

Type of resource (video, lesson plan, etc.)Guide for teachers


Learning objective(s)

  • To be able to set up a discussion

  • To be able to run a discussion


Discussion can be an effective way for students to engage with core concepts, apply them and to enhance their problem-solving skills. It’s good for promoting teamwork, for eliciting higher-order thinking, and is especially applicable when a subject is complex and/or open-ended. Communication skills develop as students express themselves, state their ideas in a clear manner, and listen to the views of others. Students can generate their own ideas, contributing explicitly to their own and others’ learning. A discussion will draw out multiple explanations, enabling students to ask questions they may not have asked if they were working individually, deepening their understanding. This guide can be used for both online synchronous (for example, using Collaborate) and face-to-face discussions.

Target (type and age of the learners and other meaningful characteristics)Teachers

Tools and materials needed for implementation

Not specified

Key words

Discussions, planning, higher-order thinking

Subject & interdisciplinary / cross-curricular links


Timing (how much time to do it?)

Not specified


The guide includes two parts, each with several sections, as follows: Part A: Setting up the discussion

  • decide on the purpose of the discussion

  • research the background information

  • help the learners prepare for the discussion

  • prepare the discussion plan

  • prepare the discussion environment

Part B: Running the discussion

  • opening the discussion

  • keeping the discussion going

  • questioning dos and don’ts

  • getting students to engage with different levels of thinking

  • closing the discussion

  • common issues

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