A STRUCTURED APPROACH

TO DISCUSSING ECONOMICS

 

W. Lee Hansen

Professor Emeritus

UW-Madison

 

Presented at Concurrent Workshop Session, Midwest Conference on Student Learning

in Economics

 

November 4-5, 2004

University of Akron


SELECTION OF DISCUSSION MATERIAL

 

 

Does the material contain a sufficient number of ideas to warrant discussion?  

 

Is the material self-contained? 

 

Is the material reasonably well written?

 

Is the material interesting to both the instructor and the students? 

 

 


PREPARING DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 

Factual Questions.   A factual question asks for specific information that can be found in the reading assigned for discussion.

 

Interpretive Questions.   An interpretive question asks discussion participants for an interpretation; it asks them to explore what the author meant by what was said.

 

Evaluative Questions.  An evaluative question asks participants for a judgment.


RELATIONSHIPS AMONG QUESTIONS

BY TYPE AND ROLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question Types

 

Inter-pretive

 

Factual

 

Eval-uative

 

 

Quest-ion Roles

 

Basic

 

Yes

 

No

 

No

 

Support-ing

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

No

 

Follow Up

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

No

 

Conclud-ing

 

Possibly

 

No

 

Yes

 


Responsibilities of Discussion Leaders

 

1.  Read the material carefully.

2.  Prepare clusters of questions carefully and in advance.

3.  Pose questions carefully.

4.  Develop the discussion in depth.

5.  Strive for answers.

6.  Avoid difficult or technical terms.

7.  Listen intently.

8.  Involve each participant.

9.  Confine yourself to asking questions.


Responsibilities of Participants

 

1.  Read the material carefully.

2.  Offer evidence from the reading to support your answers.

3.  Don't base your answers on outside material everyone has read it.

4.  Listen carefully.

5.  Ask for clarification of any point that you don't understand.

6.  Challenge answers that you do not agree with.

7.  Be willing to change your mind if someone shows you to be in error.

8.  Answer the questions posed by the leader before making additional points.

9.  Stick to the subject.

10. Do not interrupt when someone else is speaking. 

11. Be as brief as possible.  Don’t continue to babble.


Format of Discussion Modules

In Salemi-Hansen Book on

Discussing Economics (Elgar 2005)

 

 

Summary of Reading

 

Learning Objectives

 

Question Clusters

 

Discussion Suggestions

 

 

 

 


Learning How to Conduct and Participate in a Formal, Structured Discussion

 

Selection Discussed

 

William A. Galston

“Thinking About the Draft”

from

The Public Interest

Winter 2004, pp. 61-73

 

Discussion Questions from

Michael Salemi and W. Lee Hansen

Discussing Economics (Elgar 2005)