- Student Studyhub
Academic literacies
| Developing a digital student | Developing notemaking and reflective learning | IBL & PBL: problems and projects | Promoting dicussion
Promoting reading | Reading List | Resources | Simulations and role plays | Visual and creative strategies
Writing - mastering 'skills' | Writing - Writing in the Disciplines/Writing across the Curriculum



Promoting discussion

If we help students to talk in class we not only help them develop the seminar skills necessary for analytical and critical discussion – but we also help the students bond together as people. When this bonding does not take place we see bad behaviour, poor attendance and low overall morale and course commitment. When we develop grounded discussion strategies the students are happier, more committed, have better morale – and they get to engage in meaningful discussion that develops their analytical and critical thinking skills and their written work.
Tip: If asking for discussion on a topic: think/pair/share – that is, get the students to think on the question on their own – to share in pairs - and to develop more mature points in groups of four.


In this section we cover:

  • Icebreakers
  • Image Mediated Dialogue
  • Topic Mediated dialogue
  • Question/Object Based Learning

1: Icebreakers:

  • Good and bad learning
  • One thing nobody knows about you
  • Two truths and a lie
  • Desert island disc and luxury
  • Draw a self-portrait – name it - annotate with information that you want to share about yourself – introduce yourself to the class (give the tutor your portrait)
  • What is the secret of your success? Share
  • What is your success secret? What is your educational fear? In small groups, share – discuss. Produce a six-word essay on How to succeed at University – each group presents essay to class.

2: Thinking with pictures: Image Mediated Dialogue (IMD)
IMD uses images to mediate dialogue in your class. Typically you offer a range of pictures to the class and ask each student to choose one picture that answers your question. Each student then writes a literal description of their picture – and then a brief justification of why that picture answers the question, for them. Small or large group discussion can then follow – as each student shows and describes their picture – and explains their reason for choosing it. Other students can comment on the picture – and the student can modify their opinion – but they do not have to accept the comments of others.

Choose a picture that captures or illustrates for you what a professional in [your subject] is.

  • Set the students a Question: this can be about their expectations of your module; about being a professional in your discipline; about their final assignment; about what they might like to write their dissertation upon…
  • Allow students to choose ONE picture from a range of images offered (these can be completely random images).
  • They then use their picture to answer the set question: first by writing a brief literal description of their chosen image – and then by writing why for them that picture represents the answer to your question.
  • If time – share pictures and writing with the whole class – share pictures and writing in small groups.
  • Extension: reflect on the purpose of the activity; discuss implications of the exercise for their practice as a student now and a professional in the future.

3: Prompted discussion: Topic Mediated Dialogue (TMD - with visual reflection and quick presentation). As the name suggests – here discussion is mediated by a few (controversial) thoughts about your subject – or three quotes from key thinkers.


  • Discussion of the role of personal values in [your subject];
  • Discussion of re-presentation systems and the role of the visual in multimedia
  • Discuss all the different purposes of this activity.

4: Question Based Learning/Object Based Learning:
Rather than lecturing – ask a series of questions of your class to elicit responses from them. This requires us to learn to be patient – to wait for the answer. The Shuh text in the Reading list suggests how to do this.

  • We have one activity with FIFTY QUESTIONS TO ASK OF A BIG MAC BOX.
  • Discuss role of QBL in teaching and learning.