Tips for leading discussion
STS 114S



Guidelines for Discussion Leaders:

Your job is to help usto do two things:

1. Make certain that the major points covered by the readings get discussed.

2. Maximize the participation of all students in the learning that goes on in the course.


To that end in preparing for the class you should:


A. Identify a few BIG QUESTIONS that you want to discuss: What is the author trying to accomplish in this article, and does she achive what she sets out to do? For instance, how does this author approach/portray the relationship between science, technology, society, and culture; and what are major differences between her approach and previous things we've read? Or, more specifically, why do Bijker and Pinch portray technological objects as socially constructed; what does that mean?


B. Identify a somewhat larger number of important matters of fact or interpretation which are likely to illuminate the subject matter: For example: How did California's water technology grow out of political power struggles? Out of ecological circumstances? Out of ien man's fascination with urban growth and technical progress? What experiences and circumstances led to Aramis' demise?


C. Identify issues that are likely to be particularly troublesome and/or central to understanding the topics discussed -especially issues associated with vocabulary. For example: What do authors mean by "network" and how is the term used differently by different analysis of science, technology, and society? Why is it too simplixtic to account for technical growth only in terms of economic value? What do"success" and "failure" ean?


D. Think up some simple learning activities to engage the group: For example, one might do a brainstorming exercise to find out what terms were particularly troublesome to members of the class, then pair students up to find/generate definitions and have a member from each pair report their definition-allowing questions & discussion.


E. Find images, in books or on the WEB, that can be used to stimulate or focus discussions -these might include maps, tables, charts, photographs, Illustrations in texts, etc.


F. You might want to reverse engineer, or Outline, the readings to identify the issues which the authors we read focused on; but DO NOT SIMPLY SUMMARIZE THE READINGS IN YOUR OWN WORDS FOR THE CLASS. To the extent possible try to stimulate discussion by asking questions, not by stating facts or opinions.