Resources on Discussions


Learning Group Discussions (Jan Thornton, Neuroscience Program, Oberlin College). This is a handout that Jan uses in some of her courses. This handout was modified and extracted, much of it verbatim, from ones written by Dr. Craig Nelson and by Dr. Judith Hansen of Indiana University. Both of those versions rely heavily on ideas from William Faucett Hill, 1969, Learning Through Discussion, Sage Publications.

Evaluation Form for Discussion Sections

Leading a Discussion Section (Brown University Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning)

Planning and Conducting Effective Discussions (Carnegie Mellon Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence)

Teaching by Discussion (Penn State Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning)

Frequently Asked Questions about Discussion (Indiana University)

How Do I Improve Class Discussion (Northwestern University Searle Center for Teaching Excellence)

Discussion Leading (Stanford University)

Checklist for Effective Discussion Leading (Stanford University)

Encouraging Class Discussion (University of California, Berkeley)

Discussion as a Form of Learning (University of Iowa Center for Teaching)

Working in Groups (Harvard University Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning)


J.M. Billson "The College Classroom as a Small Group: Some Implications for Teaching and Learning," Teaching Sociology 14(3) (1986): 143-151.

J. H. Clarke, "Designing Discussions as Group Inquiry," College Teaching 36(4) (1988): 140-143.

R.T. Hyman, Improving Discussion Leadership (New York: Teachers College Press), 1980.

M. Sadker and D. Sadker, "Ensuring Equitable Participation in College Classes," in L.L.B. Border and N.V.N. Chism, eds., Teaching for Diversity. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 49 (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass), 1992.

R. Christensen, D. Garvin, and A. Sweet, eds., Education for Judgment: The Artistry of Discussion Leadership (Boston: Harvard Business School Press), 1991.

P. Frederick, "The Dreaded Discussion: Ten Ways to Start, " College Teaching 29 (3) (1981): 109-114.

W. J. McKeachie, "Organizing Effective Discussions," in Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, 9th ed. (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath & Co, 1994), pp. 31-52.

B.G. Davis, "Discussion Strategies," in Tools for Teaching (San Francisco: Jossie-Bass, 1993), pp. 88-95.

T. Christensen, "Calling on Students without Fear and Loathing," College Teaching 37 (1989): 33-35.

B.L. Smith, "Creating Learning Communities," Liberal Education 79 (1993): 32-39.


Last updated 16 March 2001

Comments or additions to: COT Chair