(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)
During a whole-class discussion, one of the students, Santos, made a comment.
Then Mai said, “I’d like to ask Santos a question …”
Then Lan gave her opinion, and Camilo replied, “Lan said something very interesting …”
These students were employing a discussion technique “Responding to Others,” which had taken just 10 minutes for them to pick up.
The concept of whole-class discussions can be an alien one to students from non-Western countries. Students are told that participation in class discussions is expected in Western academic settings and that if they are active participants, it can affect their grade in a positive way. Nevertheless, these students don’t know what “active participation” means, other than to state one’s opinion. For instructors preparing students for mainstream, academic coursework, the techniques introduced in these next postings could help students develop five specific techniques that they can apply to be active.
Responding to another student’s comment
Volunteering an answer
Redirecting a question when you don’t know what to say
Reporting what someone else has said
Summarizing what other group members have said
An additional benefit to those students who employ these is that their classmates will feel good about them and future instructors will be impressed. For research about this, see Want Your Students to Seem More Likeable? Research Says: Teach Them Follow-up Questions
The first technique and handout is explained below: