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Student Guide to Great Discussions 2018-08-07T13:03:02+00:00

5 Powerful Contribution-Starters

When we’re participating in class discussions it’s important that we take the time and effort to make sure our contributions are productive, supportive and meaningful. This is a lifelong skill that we will use in higher education, our careers, and even personal relationships. This discussion guide provides 5 easy ways to make great contributions:

1. Building On Ideas

The best discussions are all about collaboration, because a dozen minds are better than one! Any time that we can build on a point that another discussion participant is making, we are advancing everyone’s understanding of the subject. Try this contribution-starter in your next discussion:

“I would like to build on __________’s idea about ___________.”
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2. Disagreeing With Ideas

It’s okay to disagree! In fact, it’s encouraged so long as we do it with respect and support our disagreement with reason / evidence. Try this contribution-starter in your next discussion:

“I disagree with __________ because ___________.”
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3. Taking a Different Perspective

One of the best parts of discussions is being able to look at ideas, problems and solutions from multiple perspectives. This is a great way to encourage your peers to see things in a different light. Try this contribution-starter in your next discussion:

“If we consider __________ from the perspective of ___________.”
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4. Asking Clarifying Questions

When we are discussing new or challenging material, it’s common for one individual to reference ideas that not everyone is familiar with, or fully understands. If you need to ask a clarifying question, chances are someone else does too. Take one for the team and ask the question. Try this contribution-starter in your next discussion:

“I would like to ask a clarifying question about ____________ .”
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5. Making Connections Between Ideas

Discussions often take many different twists and turns, covering lots of ground in a very short period of time. If you notice that two or more ideas from the discussion are connected in some way, please share! Try this contribution-starter in your next discussion:

“I think there is a connection between __________ and __________ .”
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Using Parlay in Your Class?

Here’s two quick tips for making great contributions:

Click on the “Not sure what to say?” button at the bottom of the queue for a reminder of these contribution-starters.

Take notes as the discussion unfolds. They will help you organize your thoughts before it’s your turn to participate.