Comparing the Benefits of Small-Group and Large-Class Discussions

19 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 21 Aug 2009

See all articles by Philip H. Pollock

Philip H. Pollock

University of Central Florida

Kerstin Hamann

University of Central Florida

Bruce M. Wilson

University of Central Florida

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

A large literature on teaching and learning heralds the benefits of discussion for student learner outcomes, especially its ability to improve students’ critical thinking skills. Yet, there are few studies that compare the effects of different types of face-to-face discussions. Using student surveys, we analyze the benefits of small-group and large-class discussions in an upper-level political theory course. We also analyze whether the same types of students are likely to participate, and reap the benefits of, both types of discussions. We find that overall, participation is higher in small-group discussions, as are students’ perceptions of learner outcomes. We also find a more equal participation of students of different ethnic backgrounds in small-group discussions.

Keywords: teaching, learning, discussions, active learning, small-group discussions

Suggested Citation

Pollock, Philip H. and Hamann, Kerstin and Wilson, Bruce M., Comparing the Benefits of Small-Group and Large-Class Discussions (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1448968

Philip H. Pollock

University of Central Florida ( email )

4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816-1400
United States

Kerstin Hamann (Contact Author)

University of Central Florida ( email )

Dept. Of Political Science P.O. Box 161356
Orlando, FL 32816-1400
United States
407-823 2608 (Phone)
407-823 0051 (Fax)

Bruce M. Wilson

University of Central Florida ( email )

4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816-1400
United States

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