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Get your creative juices flowing...

Get your creative juices flowing...

by Sylvia Currie -
Number of replies: 16

To kick off our our week of exploring compelling discussion prompts let's come at this topic in reverse!
  
What are some things you could say in a discussion prompt that would guarantee a lackluster response from your students? 

Get creative! Get kooky!  


In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Sylvia Currie -

Meta note about this prompt: 

This is a riff on a Liberating Structures activity called TRIZ. It can be very productive to think about what we must stop doing! 

I personally find this approach effective because it helps to bring forward our prior experiences in a fun and light way, and sometimes we begin to notice areas improvement in our own practice. It can pivot nicely into identifying what we might do differently in the future. 

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Barbara Mauter -

I feel anytime you ask student to respond to peers and give little guidance, one is guaranteed to find lackluster responses.

One "trick" I learned a number years ago, teaching online, is to require students to "POST FIRST" before they can view others responses/ comments. So often, students would sound like parrots. Little thought/ deeper thinking taking place. 

When I first learned of the option for discussion boards, in mid-semester I put it into effect! My top students raved about it!! As they found students had to "think on their own" before posting! The discussions also became more honest. In some cases a student posted something w-a-y different. They then reflected on what others wrote, sometimes saying they were off thinking in a different way, this lead to additional discussions and learning.

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Leanne Johnson -

I think seeing all the posts makes for a lacklustre reply! I have reviewed many posts to this discussion and now I feel like I have nothing more to add. I imagine my students feeling the same way about seeing the first 10 responses to most questions.

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Melanie Chernoff -

I would say any discussion prompt that asks the student to "define" something would guarantee a lackluster response as chances are the concept has been defined in class already.

The responses to a "define" question might become boring for the reader as everyone will come up with a similar definition.

In reply to Melanie Chernoff

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Branca Mirnic -

Hi Melanie,

I agree that asking students to 'define" is more of a comprehension type of a question as it has already been mentioned in some of the readings/listenings (I teach English for Academic Purposes). How many definitions can we get if we have 16 students in class? How will that further the discussion?

I would rather use some of the 'essential questions" as defined by Wiggins and McTighs in their book 'Understanding by Design": interpretation, explanation, application, self-knowledge, empathy, and perspective.

Looking forward to reading what we all do this week

Branca

In reply to Branca Mirnic

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Rosilyn Teng -
I was not aware of this book, thank you.

In reply to Branca Mirnic

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Elena Felgar -

In response to Melanie and Branca's posts, I definitely agree with the "lackluster" prompt of "define..." Along with this, I would include other comprehension questions such as "identify" and "outline" as being a great way to end interactive dialogue. Even deeper level cognitive questions such as "analyze" and "compare and contrast" would not engage me. In one of the course readings (need to go back and check which one!), it mentions the barrier that overly formalized discussion prompts can present. This is often my downfall. Keeping in plain and simple may be the best way to draw learners in.


I really appreciate the book reference. Thank you, Branca!

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Jonelle Knowles -

My disappointment with some discussion questions is that students can reply without having read or understood new material or applying it. Too often the responses to my discussion questions (formerly in class) would net opinions not grounded in theory or offering reference. (oops, kind of like I have done here) :) 

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Khairunnisa Ali -

I would say when asking students to have a discussion by simply requiring them to respond to 1 or 2 other students and giving no guidelines for how to reply and engage and not really making it a conversation. So students might just reply with something very superficial and tick off the box that they replied. There is no richness in that to have students learn from.

Khairunnisa

In reply to Khairunnisa Ali

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Melanie Chernoff -

I agree. Tick. (Should I stop here?!)

I like the idea of clearly explaining how to reply to a post and how making the instructions different for each post might provide better conversation and a better read for other students who are simply scrolling through the different posts.

eg) Reply to a post by asking for further clarification. Reply to a post where you might have another perspective to offer. Rely to a post by giving a personal example of what your classmate has discussed. Reply to a post by stating your level of agreement from 1 to 10, then explain why you chose that rating.


In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Norma Sherret -

Certainly discussion prompts that allow students the "one and done" approach (they make one contribution and then leave the discussion) are discussion death traps. On the flip side, some students will write a ton into a discussion forum without much focus and then everyone has to read through those posts looking for something to respond to in order to keep the conversation going. Thanks to all for sharing the ideas of creating parameters of how to respond and the types of responses that students can use to shape their posts.

I look forward to learning alongside you this week!

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Rosilyn Teng -

I asked my students to read and comment on a short news article.   I teach principles of economics and the piece was from a young person who had emigrated to the US due to high unemployment in her home country.  

The students dutifully provided a summary of the article and that was that.  Lackluster!

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Dianna Dempsey -

What are some things you could say in a discussion prompt that would guarantee a lackluster response from your students? 

I feel like students are going to be bombarded by requests for 'discussion' type activities this fall, and are going to tire of it easily.

So I'd say (like mentioned earlier) if it's very black and white with only one answer and/or the opposite (too open ended), that will just cause students to shut down and not want to respond. Somewhere in the middle, with clear guidance, examples and with a provocative prompt that makes them feel something viscerally - I think that's where the magic will be!

Looking forward to this week!

Dianna

In reply to Dianna Dempsey

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Elena Felgar -

Great points, Dianna! I agree that vague prompts such as "discuss," "respond," or "share" will frustrate and/or disengage learners because they lack specificity. There needs to be something that grabs the learner and brings them in. Drawing on my own experience as a learner in asynchronous discussion forums, I have found that when a question asks me to make the linkage between my own life/work experience and that of the course material/concepts, I am more engaged, and I feel like it is more relevant and meaningful (good ole' adult learning principles...). I also find that these kinds of application prompts elicit responses from other learners that I actually want to read! (unlike this one, haha!)

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Get your creative juices flowing...

by Alida Janmaat -

In the non-majors human biology class I was teaching over the summer, I had students create an analogy for the immune system.  The example that I shared was based on Lord of the Rings.  I was very excited by the creativity of all the analogies, so I asked my students to share their immune system analogies with the class.  One student did but no one else shared theirs.  I had hoped that by sharing the analogies, students would comment on ones that were based on similar themes and that the discussion would help to build a learning community.  I also thought that they would enjoy seeing what others came up with, since I had many a chuckle as I marked them.  I gave little direction other than to mention that the analogies were very creative and many had similar themes and that I thought they would benefit from seeing what others put together.  I added no marks for sharing which I'm sure led to the lack of engagement.  Students are so pressed for time, that they need to see that the exercise is worthwhile rather than busy work.   Perhaps it would have been better to have students share their analogies as part of the assignment rather than to simply hand them in to me?