Influencing How Students Discuss Content

There's a good resource for faculty called The Teaching Professor Blog. This blog provides relatively short posts about various aspects of higher education instruction. The latest post, about influencing how students discuss content, provides some great food for thought.

A key distinction is between "answer-making" versus "sense-making" in student discussions. The author writes:

In the answer-making mode, students “are usually trying to come to the explanation that they think the teacher wants to hear rather than coming to an explanation that makes sense to the student.” (p. 15) And here researchers found something interesting. In some of these courses, the clicker questions counted for extra credit, with correct answers counting more than incorrect ones. In another course, clicker questions also counted for extra credit, but whether the answer was right or wrong didn’t matter. In that course, the instructor also emphasized reasoning, telling students to share their reasons with each other and asking for their explanations in whole-class discussions. Students in that course rated sense-making as more important than answer-making.

To read the full post, and to see references to the relevant research, use this link: