Factors Influencing Quality of Team Discussion

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How can we get students to have more productive discussions during group work experiences?

In this month’s “interesting read”, researchers explored this question by analyzing student discussions in response to lower-level versus higher-level questions, as measured according to Bloom’s taxonomy. They found that higher-level questions stimulated more meaningful group discussions than lower-level questions.

Based on the results of this study, the authors offer three key recommendations for encouraging more productive discussion among group members:

  1. Use higher-order questions that are based in the context of the discipline
  2. Promote the practice of students questioning one another (e.g., set guidelines for group discussions, provide sample language for respectful divergent dialogue)
  3. Hold students accountable for their answers (e.g., simultaneous group report out, “warm” calling individual students)

A final recommendation to instructors is to consider occasionally recording student group discussions in order to gain insights into student understandings, misconceptions, and approaches to solving problems. As stated by the authors, “we can learn a lot by listening to our students.”

Leupen, S.M., Kephart, K.L., & Hodges, L.C. (2020). Factors Influencing Quality of Team Discussion: Discourse Analysis in an Undergraduate Team-Based Learning Biology Course. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 19:ar7. DOI:10.1187/cbe.19-06-0112 https://www.lifescied.org/doi/10.1187/cbe.19-06-0112

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