Penn State University

Student Centered Discussion© Training Series


This program is offered once an academic year or may be offered by request.


Student Centered Discussion© (SCD) is a process for helping students to have productive, generative discussions about the course content. But facilitating discussions such as these does not just happen. Instructors must create a climate conducive to student centered discussion, promote the skills required for effective discussion (i.e., communication, interpersonal competence, critical thinking), and provide students with a workable process for structuring discussion and tools that maximize the efficacy of discussions.

SCD is a flexible model. It has been successfully incorporated into many disciplines - from English, linguistics, and history, to social sciences; from the life, physical and information sciences to mathematics and engineering. The workshop addresses the following components.

Climate: Setting the stage for Student Centered Discussion©

Class discussions range from lively, thought-provoking conversation to awkward silence among a decidedly sullen group. Often times the difference lies in the climate the instructor sets for discussion. The classroom climate has a strong affect on student learning. We will discuss how to create a classroom setting that encourages students to participate and take risks in class discussions.

Skills: There’s more to discussion than just talk

Student Centered Discussion© does more than provide a structure for great conversations. It introduces students to skills that should be developed and honed throughout their education. In this workshop, we will discuss how Student Centered Discussion© promotes these skills, such as active reading, articulate communication, interpersonal competence and critical thinking skills (i.e., problem solving, synthesizing, reflecting).

Process: The nuts and bolts of Student Centered Discussion©

This workshop presents the guidelines, tools and recommendations for facilitating SCD. We will present materials and resources on how to get students going in discussions. These include active reading exercises; talk groups, warm up activities, and the opening move. Participants will also be instructed on how to facilitate discussions, how to take notes on discussions to use for feedback and assessment, and how to troubleshoot when problems arise. Teaching a large class? No problem. Strategies on how to incorporate Student Centered Discussion© will also be discussed.

Putting it all together: How to implement Student Centered Discussion©

Participants will practice how to facilitate student centered discussion and will be offered feedback and suggestions. We will discuss how to include Student Centered Discussion© as a learning objective, and offer suggestions on including SCD in courses.


Penn State University