Classroom discussions can tell the teacher much about student learning and understanding of basic concepts. The teacher can initiate the discussion by presenting students with an open-ended question. The goal is to build knowledge and develop critical and creative thinking skills. Discussions allow students to increase the breadth and depth of their understanding while discarding erroneous information and expanding and explicating background knowledge (Black and Wiliam 1998; Doherty 2003).

  • Humans process events verbally
  • Speech makes thinking “visible,” concrete
  • Discussion is a way of testing and exploring new ideas
  • Students acquire knowledge and insight from diverse points of view
  • Conversation provides practice with problems and concepts
  • Students’ awareness of, and tolerance for, ambiguity or complexity increases
  • Students recognize and investigate their assumptions
  • Attentive, respectful listening is encouraged Intellectual agility is increased
  • Students become connected to a topic It shows respect for students' voices and experiences
  • Students are affirmed as co-creators of knowledge
  • It develops the capacity for the clear communication of ideas and meaning
  • It develops habits of collaborative learning
  • Students develop skills of synthesis and integration

Discussion Links