Breaking It Down and Building Them Up

Helping Students Develop Discussion Skills in an Upper-Level Seminar Course

  • Nicole Muscanell Penn State York
  • Suzanne Shaffer
Keywords: higher education, student learning, critical thinking, discussion skills, learning support, instructional resources


As students enter upper-division courses, many are required to lead and manage discussions. Ultimately, students are assessed on whether they were effective discussion leaders. But, what does this mean? A challenge that students may face as novice discussion leaders is that the task of managing a discussion is complex and requires multiple skills—these may not be readily apparent. In this case study, we employed an instructional intervention to help make discussion skills more obvious and accessible to students.

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