Diane Hostetler | Tom Kerns | Brian Saunders

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Discussion Evaluation:
Assessing Your Discussion Contributions

(our definition of "to discuss")



When evaluating your own discussion contributions a student can ask:

How did I contribute to the discussion? To what degree did I engage in the following three (A,B,C) kinds of behaviors?

A. Introduced substantive points

  • I.e., points that were clearly a result of thoughtful reading and thinking about the assigned texts. (A substantive point is one that
    became the focus for some group exploration; i.e., was more than an off-hand remark.)
  • Identified essential issues or questions the text is discussing
    Pointed to the author's main hypotheses, claims, and supporting arguments and evidence
  • Pointed to important passages that needed to be understood
  • Explained the complexities faced in exploring this text
  • Described passages that were personally meaningful or connected to some shared experience

    B. Deepened the discussion
  • I.e., tried to help the class think about individual contributions and discover new insights and understanding of assigned readings.
  • Helped others explore an idea; e.g., provided additional supportive quotes from the text; explained their relevance; summarized or
  • paraphrased ideas; asked clarifying questions
  • Shared the thought process that was personally used in developing an idea
  • Paraphrased what the author means in a specific passage
  • Summarized the arguments being presented
  • Identified similarities and differences in positions being argued
  • Challenged an idea or presented alternate interpretation
  • Connected ideas from several participants or from other texts we've read
  • Formulated insightful questions which sparked group response
  • Introduced personal experiences which illuminated the text for others

    C. Facilitated group exploration
  • I.e., focused on what the group together was accomplishing more than on their own individual performance
  • Kept the group on task
  • Focused group back to the text
  • Summarized for the group what had been discussed
  • Brought closure to one point and made transition to new one
  • Paraphrased someone's comments, identified what you didn't understand, and/or formulated a specific question asking for clarification
  • Indicated support by responding to a person's ideas, or complimented them
  • Defused a tense moment with use of humor


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© Diane Hostetler, Tom Kerns, Brian Saunders