Human Rights

Dr Tom Kerns













Definition of "to discuss"



To Discuss

When you are asked to discuss something in the classroom, what exactly does "discuss" mean?

For our purposes here, discussing a topic will mean having a back and forth, give and take, conversation among class members about the topic or reading in question. It will mean having a dialog, or "multilog," involving any interested parties in the class.

So when you post a message in a class discussion, your message might do one or more of the following.

It might:

  • Simply summarize some of what you see the author or lecture saying
  • Pick out a salient point or two that caught your attention, summarize it, and say what you think about it
  • Pick out something you have a question about, quote it, and ask others in class what they think it means
  • Respond to a question or comment that others have posted
  • Attempt to re-phrase some point the author has made in order to make it more clear; then see if others in class agree that you've caught the sense of the passage
  • etc


(It is probably wise to be careful about making negative judgments about a reading too hastily; it would be important to understand the author well before being too critical; but after you understand it, critiques are perfectly acceptable, as long as they leave plenty of room for others in the class to disagree with you.)

It is probably a good idea, in general (though not always), to include only one major idea, theme, or question in a message. So you may want to post more than one message for more than one idea.

Evaluating discussions

Here is a list of positive behaviors that can be found in healthy, productive discussions.