What do students do to make it safe to share their ideas?

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Episode 102: Soft bed University of Maryland

During group work, instructors may be hoping that students will validate each other’s correct ideas, refute each other’s incorrect ideas, raise important questions, and generally provide each other with a safe and productive mini-environment for learning. What do students do to make it safe to share their ideas?

July 3, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Facilitating collaboration
Physics Content
STEM-wide audiences

Lesson Contents (2 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(1 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(12 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What struck you about this episode? Talk to the person next to you about what got your attentio

  2. Do you get the sense that one student knows more physics than the others? If so, does this hinder the discussion, help the discussion, or neither?

  3. Does the discussion in this episode appear to be generative, in the sense that new ideas emerge? Or does it seem to be more of a case of one student teaching something to another?

  4. One of the trickiest things about being a student in a group is managing the tension between sharing your ideas, and possibly looking inept if your peers don’t admire your idea. Does this group make it safe for everyone to share their ideas? If so, how?

  5. What evidence suggests that the students may be subconsciously observing and mirroring one another? What effect might that have on their collaboration? How might an instructor cultivate this behavior?

  6. What does this episode suggest an instructor might do to create a classroom culture in which students share their ideas freely?

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