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ERIC Number: EJ850400
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 26
ISSN: ISSN-0021-3667
Improving Classroom Discussion: A Rhetorical Approach
Bruss, Kristine S.
Journal of General Education, v58 n1 p28-46 2009
In this article, the author describes a project designed to take the dread out of discussion in a first-year interdisciplinary humanities course at Sewanee: The University of the South, a private liberal arts college in Tennessee. The Responsible Intellectual Discussion project, known as RID, was created in conjunction with the college's Eloquence Initiative, a speaking-across-the-curriculum effort in which the author served as a consultant. By virtue of its association with the speaking initiative, RID was informed not only by familiar literature on discussion methods, but also by rhetorical theory and pedagogy, which gave the project a distinctive character. Although discussion is acknowledged to be one of many communication activities that might be part of speaking-intensive courses, detailed research on discussion projects is lacking. While discussion has long been of interest to communication scholars, that interest has centered largely on democratic processes and small-group dynamics rather than on the rhetorical skills of individual participants. This project, in contrast, conceptualizes discussion as a communication end and, in so doing, points to a different set of strategies for improving discussion. In this article, the author describes those strategies, all of which are characteristic of public speaking pedagogy: (1) establishing and communicating criteria for evaluation, (2) instructing (with a particular focus on the rhetorical concepts of invention and imitation), and (3) providing opportunities for guided practice and feedback. After describing these elements, the author presents assessment results from the project, including anecdotal comments from faculty as well as survey data from students. As the assessment results reveal, RID was a clear success, confirming the promise of a rhetorical approach to discussion. (Contains 2 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Tennessee