Discussions are a powerful tool for making meaning
Engaging in academic discourse allows students to test their ideas, ask questions, make connections, and learn from their peers. Not only is discussion critical to developing a deep understanding of complex concepts, issues, processes, and phenomena, it builds community among members of a class.
Depite the potential that discussion has to deepen learning, teachers may feel frustrated by the time required to facilitate meaningful whole group discussions and the inequitable contributions by different members of the class. A handful of outspoken students may dominate the conversation while the rest of the class remains quiet, refusing to participate. Ironically, the person who actually dominates whole group, teacher-led discussion is the teacher because we feel pressure to respond to each student’s contribution, either complimenting a strong point they made or gently correcting an error or misconception.