Strategies for engaging students in discussion

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Use students to lead the discussion:


  • Have students synthesize the prior week's responses.
  • Have students generate discussion or review questions. Students can submit one question to you via e-mail or an ANGEL drop box. Select a few questions and post them to your discussion area. You could even have the students who submitted the question be the moderator for that question.
  • Assign a group to be the experts on a topic or section. Have them post a question for that week's discussion and lead the discussion. Toward the end of the class discussion, have the discussion leaders summarize and combine points for their classmates.
  • Have a student start the discussion on a topic or chapter.
Promote interaction


  • Have students take sides on an issue and defend their positions. Poll students in class or online on a particular question or issue. Then have students support their positions in the threaded discussion area.
  • Post a number of questions relating to a chapter or unit of study. Have students work in small groups on these questions. Each group will then post their final results to the discussion list.


Guide students


  • Use online chat to hold a review session.
  • Post a weekly discussion question related to course readings prior to the in-class discussion. You can use comments from the online discussion to generate in-class discussion. Students will be more prepared for the face-to-face discussion.
  • Place preview or review questions or concepts in the online discussion area. Have students submit a response in their own words (not a quote from the book). This allows you to see the students' level of understanding.
  • Have students identify what parts of the assignment are the most confusing to them.
  • For individual assignments, have students review postings from the discussion fourm and outline the points and themes that were discussed. Select a few good examples and post these for the class.


  • Post a model answer to the discussion as a conclusion to your discussion thread.