Proposal Title

Classroom Discussions and the Life Cycle of a Course

Proposal Abstract

Often, teaching strategies are discussed in methodological silos – such as effective lecturing, inclusive discussions, or the utilization of technology in the classroom. While providing important insights, such categorization can neglect important contextual factors – specifically, the impact of timing on the appropriate ways in which to utilize any given method. In this study, I explore the relationship between classroom discussion and student learning among Vanderbilt undergraduate students in a class on gender and sexuality. Ethnographic methods, consisting of classroom observation and in-depth interviews, were utilized in this study. In all, 12 class visits and 6 in-depth student interviews were completed. In addition, instructor feedback on student participation and learning (using a 5 point scale), as well as overall course goals and objectives, was obtained. Key findings from the study suggest that the methods utilized to produce effective and inclusive classroom discussions change over the life cycle of the course in response to changing student needs. This “life cycle” approach to classroom discussion has implication for how instructors should encourage student participation – for example, methods that may seem to inhibit discussion (such as evaluative language) may actually be necessary in the beginning of the semester in order to build student confidence.

Location

Room 2010

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Mar 25th, 11:00 AM Mar 25th, 11:45 AM

Classroom Discussions and the Life Cycle of a Course

Room 2010

Often, teaching strategies are discussed in methodological silos – such as effective lecturing, inclusive discussions, or the utilization of technology in the classroom. While providing important insights, such categorization can neglect important contextual factors – specifically, the impact of timing on the appropriate ways in which to utilize any given method. In this study, I explore the relationship between classroom discussion and student learning among Vanderbilt undergraduate students in a class on gender and sexuality. Ethnographic methods, consisting of classroom observation and in-depth interviews, were utilized in this study. In all, 12 class visits and 6 in-depth student interviews were completed. In addition, instructor feedback on student participation and learning (using a 5 point scale), as well as overall course goals and objectives, was obtained. Key findings from the study suggest that the methods utilized to produce effective and inclusive classroom discussions change over the life cycle of the course in response to changing student needs. This “life cycle” approach to classroom discussion has implication for how instructors should encourage student participation – for example, methods that may seem to inhibit discussion (such as evaluative language) may actually be necessary in the beginning of the semester in order to build student confidence.