The Discussion Leading Project

Now that you have had experience as an active listener and contributor to critical thinking discussions, it is time for you to lead and facilitate one. Leading discussion is a powerful way to demonstrate and practice critical thinking. Your overall objective is to help us all become more adept at forming judgments about social issues around drugs so that we can suggest informed social solutions to these problems based on the knowledge we have available.

You and a partner are assigned a date on the D2L Main Page. You should contact your partner(s) and split-up responsibilities. Since the overall grade is a group grade, all members of your team should contribute equally.

Your objective

You must accomplish three things during your discussion:

  1. Discuss topical content to help clear-up confusion, reinforce major points, and reflect on our experiences with the material.
  2. Critically examine at least one important question at issue through discussion.
  3. Either critically analyze or evaluate at least one text that your team contributes.
  4. Keep the discussion focused around the assigned texts.

Selecting texts

  • Below the Main Page is a collection of links to texts that past students have used, arranged by subject. I will make some suggestions. You do not have to use the texts that I selected. This is your discussion.
  • The texts you plan to critically examine do not have to be written, they may also be audio, video, or some other medium I haven't yet considered. The main requirement is that they be related to the primary reading.
  • Texts that provide an alternative point of view are inherently stimulating, but texts that support the primary text are also effective. Plan to critically compare points of view, information, and opinions between the two texts.
  • You may also choose to critically examine the primary reading itself. If you choose this route, you should examine the author's point of view. What is the purpose of the writing? Has data been cherry picked to make a point? Play the devil's advocate: Are there other valid perspectives that can be examined? A potentially useful way to stimulate critical examination of the primary text is to locate a one-star book review online. Many of these reviews are too light on substance to be useful for your purpose, but there are always a few that make excellent points worth examining.

What to turn-in and due dates

By 1:00 PM seven days in advance of your discussion day, at least one member of your team must submit to the D2L Submission folder the filled-in Discussion Leading Template containing:

  1. A list of Vocabulary, if applicable. (The only optional component)
  2. A list of Key Ideas. Point the reader to the most important features of the article through reading comprehension questions. These questions should be specific, fact-based questions that direct your reader to understanding of the most important points in the reading. The answers should be simple lists, statistics, or explanations of concepts that require simply quoting of paraphrasing the text. If you could answer the question in under two minutes, it is appropriate here. Your team should contribute at least four items to this section. I will be grading on both quality and quantity.
  3. Answers to your Key Ideas. Provide answers to the questions you posed above. Writing these will help confirm whether or not your questions have clear factual answers as posed (if they do not have factual answers, then you should probably upgrade them to Thinking Critically). Also, be aware that your answers help me to evaluate your team's preparation.
  4. One or more Thinking Critically prompts. Each of these challenges the reader to consider an important question at issue to help the reader form judgments around a difficult problem and consider solutions. Set a purpose for the day. Give open-ended questions that tie the reading to other topics. These questions should stimulate discussion and not be easily answered.
  5. A link to or attachment of a selected text to critically analyze or evaluate.
  6. A short description of your agenda including the specific critical thinking skills you plan to apply.
  7. Four questions with answers for the Reading Guide Quiz. Use True/False, Multiple Choice, Multi-Select, Matching, Ordering, or Fill in the Blanks format (the blanks must have a limited number of possibilities). These must be related to the readings and one can focus on a critical thinking skill.
  8. At least one short Homework Activity. Your activity should help students prepare for discussion. Ideally, it should take less than 15 minutes to complete. You do not need to do your own homework activity, you will automatically recieve points for simply designing it.

By the next class period after your presentation, grade the homework Activity that you assigned in your Daily Guide and submit the scored papers to the instructor in alphabetized by first name. The rubric is below. You may wish to consult the grading profiles for guidance.






Clearly engaging with ideas, reasoning, assumptions, implications, and intellectual processes.



Occasional lapses while clearly engaging with ideas, reasoning, assumptions, implications, and intellectual processes.



Sometimes engaging with ideas, reasoning, assumptions, implications, and intellectual processes, with evidence that some skills are still developing.



Occassionally engaging with ideas, reasoning, assumptions, implications, and intellectual processes, with evidence of "going through the motions" or incompleteness of task.


Not engaged

Little evidence of engagement in the task. An attempt was made.


How your team will be evaluated

Pulling off a great classroom discussion that involves all students is a complex and challenging project that I've broken it down into two parts: (1) planning the discussion and (2) facilitating an effective discussion. The total points will be divided equally between these two parts. All members of the team will receive the same group grade. The instructor will grade your team using a grading rubric. You should read this rubric to understand how the points will be distributed.

How to prepare

The next page will cover advice on how to prepare for this assigned.