General Information Once during the semester, each of you—along with one or two partners—will be required to lead the discussion on one of the assigned scholarly articles posted in Canvas. Leading a good discussion is a challenging exercise, and it will require solid preparation outside of class on your part. Below you will find guidelines on how to prepare for your article discussion. • You will be asked to select your partners and sign up for your article and discussion date on the first day of class. The date of your article discussion depends on which article you select (see schedule on syllabus). • Your article discussion should be 30-45 minutes. Each discussion leader in the group should be responsible for leading the discussion for an equal amount of time (how you divide the content of your discussion is up to you). • Good discussion leaders strike a balance between providing information on the one hand and stimulating thoughtful discussion on the other. You should come organized with a game plan (i.e., you should prepare outline-style notes that you will be required to turn in), but you should also be flexible in deviating somewhat from this game plan as the discussion evolves. • You are not allowed to use PowerPoint (or other presentation software) for this assignment (it is too rigid). You are, however, free to write ideas and important points on the board as they emerge, project relevant external material with the class computer, or show relevant video clips. • Your discussion of the article should address the following: o The main purpose or thesis of the article. o The three or four central or most important points made in the article. You need to avoid detailed article summary here—we have all read the article. If your article describes empirical research, be sure to describe briefly what the researchers did (method) and found (results). o Connections between the content in your article and the Helgeson textbook. You are required to elaborate on at least TWO different connections between your article content and specific material from the Helgeson textbook (all textbook chapters are fair game for these connections). Identify chapter and page numbers of material used from text. o One connection to material external to the article, such as a current news event, a film, a book, etc. o The strengths and weaknesses of the article. o Points or concepts in the article that are difficult to understand. Don’t simply identify these difficult points—also lead a discussion that clarifies them. Note that it is not acceptable to say that the article was perfectly clear and that no points/concepts needed clarification. If you need clarification on any of these points, be sure to come see me before your presentation. o What insights can be gained (or conclusions drawn) from the article. o Interesting questions that you and your partner(s) generate based on the article content. As discussion leaders, you should come prepared with at least two interesting discussion questions on your article per discussion leader in your group (see DQ Guidelines for more information) that are designed to stimulate class discussion (you won’t necessarily have time to ask all of these questions, but it helps to come prepared). Also remember that each of your classmates (in the audience) will have written two discussion questions on the article, and you are welcome to ask classmates to share their questions during your discussion of the article. (continued) • In addressing each of these discussion components, you should strike a balance between providing information to the class and asking for your classmates’ input. Overall, your discussion should be about a 50-50 balance of you presenting information to the class and you asking for your classmates’ input. A discussion that leans too far in either direction is unbalanced. Use your judgment on when to present information and when to ask for it. However, be sure to seek class input and class discussion throughout your presentation; do not save it all for the end. • Leading the article discussion is worth 100 points. In grading your presentation, I will be looking to see that you show a clear understanding of the article and engage the class in a meaningful discussion of it. I also expect you to address the discussion components listed previously (through a balanced combination of your input and your classmates’ input) in a clear and organized manner. Note that one way to demonstrate a strong understanding of the article is to connect it in a sophisticated way to material outside of this class. Finally, I will ask each member of the discussion team to rate the contributions of his or her team members, and I will take these ratings into consideration when assigning the discussion grades. • Because we have a set schedule of readings and the class reads certain articles for particular class dates, it will not be possible for you to make up the article discussion assignment. It is thus very important for you to lead your article discussion on the designated date. If you realize that there is a conflict with your discussion date, you must make arrangements to switch discussion dates with someone else in the class well in advance of your scheduled date. Ground Rules for Healthy Class Discussion • Only one person should speak at a time. The order of speaking should be determined by the presenter(s) in response to a show of hands. • Everyone in the class should make at least one contribution during each discussion. • Class members should keep comments brief and to-the-point (don’t dominate the discussion). • Class members should keep comments focused on the topic at hand. If you bring up a new topic, you may be asked to hold onto it until the discussion is ready to move on to new points. • Listen carefully to what others are saying and try to build on another speaker’s ideas. • At the same time, remember that civil (respectful) disagreement is vital for healthy discussion. • Be imaginative and exploratory—it is fine for you to pursue ideas regardless of whether you believe in them or not. • Refrain from making any form of derogatory comments about other people. Show respect for all members of the classroom—and all groups of people—at all times. Our focus is on evaluating ideas, not the people who express the ideas.
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