"It's My Turn": Speaking Up in Class Discussion

Laura W. Doto, M.A.
University of Chicago


Workshop Outline and Agenda

The objective of this workshop is to educate students about the various roles they play during a classroom discussion, to allow them an opportunity to practice a specific role, and to boost their confidence as they anticipate their next class discussion.

The audience for this workshop is College students and/or beginning graduate students. This workshop can also be easily modified for non-native English language students (ESL) by focusing on the culture of the American classroom and expectations for discussion-oriented learning.

Method: Discuss value of class discussion as a learning tool; Introduce roles of active listener, facilitator, clarifier, and reporter; Introduce group activity and discussion topic; Allow for discussion (10-15 minutes); Regroup and assess solutions and group roles.


The following is the outline of the flow of workshop, including ideas and definitions for learning objectives and roles, respectively.

I. Introductions

A. Introduce yourself and allow the participants to introduce themselves

B. Articulate the goals of the workshop:

to educate about the various roles we play during a classroom discussion

to allow an opportunity to practice a specific role

to boost confidence as we anticipate the next class discussion

C. Inquire about some of the specific concerns that students have?

The Workshop Agenda is also available as an overhead / handout.

II. Purpose of classroom discussion

A. Opportunity to clarify ideas

B. Enhance familiarity with subject

C. Develop and evaluate ideas

D. Opportunity to demonstrate and explore your ideas with instructor, classmates and yourself

III. The roles we play in a discussion (all at once)

A. Participant/Active listener - contribute to group discussion and take an active role in informing and assessing possible solutions to the scenario.

B. Facilitator: Helps the group to stay on topic by directing group discussion to ensure that the topic is addressed and all participants have the opportunity to contribute.

C. Clarifier: Serves as a reflective listener working to clarify any points that are not clear or that appear disjointed and to ensure all participants understand the ideas expressed by other group members.

D. Reporter: records relevant ideas and responses and may present these at a later date in a variety of formats (paper, exam, conversation, presentation).

IV. Preparing for these roles (like paper writing)

A. Read

B. Question

C. Note-take and write -- record questions or ideas

D. Review material immediately prior to discussion

V. Group discussion (activity) - assign roles and resolve problem

  1. Brainstorm ideas for entering conversation
  2. Discuss responses to these ideas - what works for one, may not for another
  3. Make recommendations to larger group

VI. Large group recommendations list

VII. Wrap-up

A. What suggestion will you take back to the classroom?

B. Feedback Survey (workshop evaluation)

Additional Handouts:


Laura Doto is an Educational Counselor at the University of Chicago's Academic Skills Assessment Program.


Copyright © 1999 Laura W. Doto. Permission is granted to copy and use this material for educational and non-profit purposes only. This copyright statement and acknowledgement of authorship should remain intact on materials you copy from this website.