Teaching Tip: Three reflective responses to learner contributions

4/25/2007 7:00:00 AM

Overview: When a learner contributes to the discussion or asks a question, taking the initiative to learn, what is the best way to respond? To facilitate self-discovery and self-appropriated learning, effective teachers respond without changing the topic and share their own information or perspective with mutual respect and without domination. Three examples to use sequentially:

  1. Paraphrase While remaining alert to both the intellectual and emotional aspects of learner contributions, rephrase the underlying message the learner is sending in one's own words, not the learner's words. This especially applies when the learner says something new, something more than the commonplace. However, "parroting" the learner's words or routinely beginning, "I hear you saying" is both irritating and condescending.
  2. Parallel personal comment Without changing the topic or bending it in the slightest, talk about current feelings or a past experience that matches what the learner has said. Usually statements start with, "I."
  3. Leading query on learner's topic Ask for clarification of aspects of the comment without shifting it to one's own agenda. Such responses include, "I don't understand this part. Could you elaborate or give an example?" and references to others: "Who can build on what she is saying?"

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