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

19 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2010

See all articles by Kerstin Hamann

Kerstin Hamann

University of Central Florida

Philip H. Pollock

University of Central Florida

Bruce M. Wilson

University of Central Florida

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 29, 2010

Abstract

A large literature has established the benefits of discussions for stimulating student engagement and critical thinking skills. However, we know considerably less about the effect of the discussion environment on student learning. In this study, we assess student perceptions concerning the benefits of discussions in an upper-level political theory class. We compare how students evaluated discussions in the large class environment, in small discussion face-to-face discussion groups, and in online discussion groups. Overall, small discussion groups elicited the highest student satisfaction and fared best in critical thinking skills, while online discussions provided the best forum to express thoughts. While not favored by students, all-class discussions also provided significant benefits to students.  

Keywords: discussion, online learning, active learning

Suggested Citation

Hamann, Kerstin and Pollock, Philip H. and Wilson, Bruce M., Comparing the Benefits of Small-Group and Large-Class Discussions (January 29, 2010). APSA 2010 Teaching & Learning Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1544620 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1544620

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)

Philip H. Pollock

University of Central Florida ( email )

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

Bruce M. Wilson

University of Central Florida ( email )

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

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