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Facilitating Class Discussions

Interactive learning is a pedagogical approach in which the instructor and students participate in discussions through critical questioning, active listening and responding thoughtfully. These actions are intricately interrelated: the potential effect of a good question is only fully realised when accompanied by active listening, and active listening is essential for responding appropriately by thoughtful consideration of the subject matter.


  1. Questioning: Students / Instructor use different types of questions at various points (when appropriate) to shape the discussion toward getting key insights and deeper understanding into the topic. 
  2. Listening: Students / Instructor listen attentively to the content of peer's contributions, being sensitive to the tone, body language, and reactions of peers. 
  3. Responding: Students / Instructor give verbal and nonverbal responses to contributions. Verbal responses can be in the form of giving feedback and direction, soliciting reactions, and using follow-up questions to probe understanding for greater depth or clarity.
For tips and techniques on how to facilitate discussions, check out the site on: 
  1. Icebreaker activities, to build social presence among students; 
  2. Questioning strategies, to start and sustain discussions; and
  3. Critical thinking process, by Brookfield's (1987, 2012), to ensure discussions are targetted to help students develop critical thinking skills. 
Adapted from: Questioning, Listening and Responding from Christensen Centre for Teaching & Learning. click here



Last updated on 24 Apr 2017 .