Discussion Techniques – Application and Performance

Discussion Techniques - Application and Performance

Applying learning is important in all disciplines because it allows learners process information rather than simply receive it. Lectures mixed with application and performance like tasks can help maintain learners‘ focus. As they discuss their answers, they get different perspectives on the topic. Good activities during lectures can get students to think deeply and apply their knowledge.

Difficulty: 2/5




Class of learners 

Core Competency Connection

Sketch of a dragonfly on a green gradient background
Sketch of three wolves on a grey gradient background
Sketch of two bees on a yellow gradient background

The Process

1. Contemporary issues journal

Have learners keep a journal for the purpose of connecting in-class issues and readings to contemporary events or personal experiences. Use the journal for individual learner assessment or discussion.

2. Directed paraphrase

Ask learners to articulate important passages or concepts in their own words. Learners can complete this task orally with partners or small groupsThis can also be done as an individual written activity. 

3. Insights-resources-application (IRA)

Ask learners to complete a written assignment that includes discussion of 1) new understandings (insights), 2) resources that amplify or make sense of the reading (resources), and 3) an example from the learner’s personal experience that relates (application). These can be short essays that can help begin discussion. 

4. Jigsaw

Break off class into several small groups that will work to develop expertise together on a specific concept. Then reassign each learner to new groups with the other experts and have them teach the concepts to their peers.

5. (Virtual) Field trips

Visit a virtual location (or off-campus location, if restrictions allow) for first-hand observation, possibly with outside experts to help inform learners. This may require some preparation, especially if it involves interacting with others in a knowledgeable and ethical manner.


Selections from Barkley, Elizabeth. (2010)Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. Jossey-Bass. Compiled by Joe Bandy, CFT Assistant Director

Jessica Marcotte

Coordinator, Testing Services

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