Each student will co-lead one discussion during the quarter. Aim for 45 minutes. Meet with Michael and the TAs at the end of the previous class to discuss your plan. The night before your discussion day, submit the current draft of your slides via the online course submission system instead of your critique. Then, email the final version of the slides to the course staff prior to the start of class. The following is an example slide deck from last year.
Begin your assignment by defining a very clear learning goal for the class. What will students understand at the end of class that they may not have at the beginning? Decide on 3-4 key ideas from the readings that you would like the students to understand deeply, and structure your discussion strategy around that. As part of that, your discussion should accomplish the following:
- Do not summarize the readings. Previous years' experience has taught us that everyone in the room finds this boring. Jump straight in.
- Lead a conversation about the papers, covering topics much like those that would be covered in a critique. You don't need to provide all the content, but you need to be willing to step in at any point when no one else is providing the content. Don't plan on giving a 45-minute monologue. Do come in with a clear set of goals for what you would like to convey.
- Get people talking! One great way to do this is to break people into pairs or small groups for a minute or two to think about a question. Pairs and small groups give more students a chance to participate, and they help students get ideas and words flowing. And by a minute or two, we literally mean 60 or 120 seconds. Inside of class, pair/small group discussion longer than a minute or two tends to lose momentum and fall off track.
- Sometimes groups want to make sure that Michael's lecture won't too heavily overlap with their discussion. If you'd like to see what Michael covered last year in lecture, navigate to the syllabus page and decrement the year. Last year's lecture will be linked from there. He updates lectures each year, but often the "bones" of the content are similar.
- Cover both high- and low-level parts of the readings. What does this research mean? High level concepts are important, they help us anchor on the topic and give us some motivation for a research topic. How was this research accomplished? What technical concepts and methodological strategies were employed? Really dive into a key detail of how a study was performed, or whether the right research question was asked. If it's a technical paper, the discussion should help students deeply understand the key technical ideas.
- Use Google Scholar to check papers that have cited the current papers. This can be useful in helping structure your discussion!
Before class on the day of your discussion, read through all other students' critiques and weave ideas from them into your discussion, crediting the authors. The critiques are viewable through the course submission system after midnight. It's a nice way to encourage the excellent, thoughtful work that students do in writing their commentaries, and also bring those ideas and their authors into the classtime discussion.
Finally, grade the student commentaries. We recommend grading before or right after class while everything is fresh. Don't spend a huge amount of time on this -- essentially, the goal is a "check", "check-plus", "check-minus" grading system, based on the depth of student's intellectual engagement with the paper's core ideas. In general, the majority of commentaries get a 'check', with exemplary commentaries getting a 'check-plus' and weaker ones getting a 'check-minus'. That said, this class is not graded on a curve, so any particular day may or may not match that general trend. Enter grades through the admin interface. Once you've completed this, please release the grades for the student commentaries and generate statistics for your discussion's assigned readings. You will have admin access for two days following your discussion day.In evaluating your discussion, the course staff will use the following rubric:
|1: No meaningful questions raised about the reading in the public forum.||3: Questions and insights posed for discussion were straightforward extensions of the papers.||5: Raised questions and insights that demonstrated some critical thinking, but some points were somewhat shallow.||7: Raised questions and insights to the class that displayed clarity of thought and prompted new perspectives on the papers.|
|1: Students' commentaries were not integrated or barely integrated.||2: Students' commentaries were integrated in a surface-level fashion.||3: Students' commentaries reinforced the main points of the paper but did not add significant color or spark new discussion.||4: Students' commentaries were woven into the presentation to add color and perspective to the discussion points and spark in-class discussion.|
|Conversation and activities
|1: Let the conversation drift, asked questions too open-ended and prompted a lot of dead time during discussion, or otherwise produced a poorer in-class learning experience.||3: Questions elicited a response but did not spur discussion. Activities were mildly useful in enhancing learning.||5: Guided the students' discussion toward active participation and conversation. Activities were well motivated.||7: Guided the students' discussion toward active participation and conversation. Activities increased engagement with material and broadened student's understanding of the subject.|