One of the most common forms of communication within a classroom environment is the class discussion. Developing effective communication with adult learners during class discussions involves engaging the adult and encouraging their participation.
Communication has the potential to build effective working relationships with students when there are positive classroom interactions. Discussions provide an opportunity for learners to interact with one another and share their unique perspectives, which in turn can deepen the learning and knowledge creation process. Class discussions also provide the instructor with an opportunity to assess the adults’ overall progress and development.
Within a traditional classroom environment the instructor has an ability to physically observe the students, their behavior, and their interactions. Within an online classroom environment the instructor may assess performance and progress through the quality of messages posted within an online discussion board, along with the frequency of messages posted. Online discussion boards are frequently used in a manner similar to physical classroom discussions, with a goal of encouraging learners to work with course topics, concepts, and other learners.
Classroom discussions can provide an effective method of facilitating the exchange of ideas, while allowing adults the opportunity to gain the insights and perspectives of other learners. Effective communication during these discussions requires the instructor to guide the process, ensuring that adult learners maintain respect and professionalism with their responses. The process of focused interactions also involves guiding students beyond their initial reactions and personal belief systems, utilizing higher-order thinking and promoting cognitive development.
In an article written by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Fontbonne University, the process of stimulating class discussions is enhanced when students have developed rapport with each other. Instructors can encourage development of this rapport by utilizing opportunities for students to communicate effectively with each other. Within a traditional classroom the instructor may consider the use of small group activities. For the online classroom environment, students are often required to post an introduction as a means of initial classroom communication.
Through positive communication with the instructor and other learners in the class, adults are likely to find an environment that is conducive to learning and the knowledge creation process. When an instructor is successful in facilitating effective communication during class discussions the learners begin to feel a sense of collaboration and through a mutual exchange of information they are more likely to share their ideas, knowledge, beliefs, and experiences.