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Woman at poolCourse Discussion: Prompts

You're the new advertising director of a national magazine. Your job is to evaluate the last issue of your magazine using the criteria presented in the course materials.

Actively engage learners by reaching outside the required textbook readings and standard course content. Bring in multiple perspectives, authentic resources, and real-world problems. Also think about multiple channels of communication. Students may listen to a speech, analyze a political cartoon, or examine government data.

Example. Students are asked to watch a panel discussion titled "Academic Freedom in an Age of Industry Collaboration: A Panel Discussion" (length 1:35:23) at University of California Television (UCTV10). They will then continue the panel discussion online taking on the role of a fictional faculty member or industry representative discussing the key issues.

Students might be asked to

Design Effective, Efficient, and Appealing Discussion Prompts

Create a clear, concise prompt that will initiate discussion. The following discussion starters are simple examples to help you generate ideas.

Start with a(n)...

Action. Use verbs to bring a posting alive. Start with an event, disaster, or other activity. Then ask a question.

Announcement. Make an announcement or statement. Use this to grab interest.

Challenge. Challenge participants with a bold statement that might cause controversy such as one side of an argument or an opinion. For instance, start with the perspective of a historical figure such as "patriots" or "loyalists"

Choice. Present options or choices then ask a question such as Which do you like best? Why? Which of these songs would be the best theme music for our book? Why? Which illustration would you choose for the cover of this book? Why?

Current Event. Present a news item or important local or global event. Consider a story that extends or contradicts something found in your course readings.

Sea star photographed by Mila ZinkovaDefinition. Provide a word and/or definition. Or, just a word and ask for a definition, illustration or example. Be sure to cite the source. Ask a question that requires a definition.

Emotion or Feeling. Sleepy, dizzy, frantic, frustrated, or happy... how does it feel? What character makes you smile? Why? What's a cyberbully? How would it feel to be attacked by a cyberbully?

ShellsExperience. Focus on personal or professional experiences and examples. Connect it to the discussion or topic. If possible, incorporate visuals such as photographs.

Figurative Language. Design assignments that make use of simile (comparison such as or is), metaphor (comparison: this is like that), personification (giving a nonhuman, human qualities), or hyperbole (exaggeration).

Opinion. Start with an opinion and take a stand.

Quote. Start with a quote. The quote could be from a famous person, book, news article, or interview. Be sure to use quotation marks and credit the source. Use this quote as the basis for discussion. Use Wikiquote for ideas.

Question. Focus on questions about a topic (i.e., main idea, connection to other learning), book or movie (i.e., character, plot, setting), or problem.

Riddle or Puzzle. Pose a riddle or puzzle, then provide a reading to help solve the problem. Or, get students involved with writing their own riddles or creating puzzles.

Scenario. Ask readers to imagine a situation. Consider starting with dialog or conversation.

Statistic. How many or how much? Present a shocking statistic or one that people might question. Consider presenting this information in the form of a chart or graphic. Ask students to analyze this data.

Surprise. Begin with a shocking or amazing piece of information.

Design a clear, concise prompt to jumpstart your discussion.

apply itApply It!
Create three possible prompts for a single discussion topic.

Share these ideas with a classmate. Is one more effective or engaging than the others? Or, could all three be used providing students with a choice?

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