Stump Your Partner:

  • During your lecture, pause, and have students ask each other challenging questions.
  • Allow this to continue for a predetermined amount of time.
  • Have students write down any questions they cannot answer and collect them. You can then adjust the class accordingly, perhaps even using the questions for quizzes or exams at a later date.

Review and Refresh (Brame 2015):

  • If you reach a natural lull in your lecture, have students refresh each other in pairs as to what they just learned.
  • If there are a lot of questions, consider slowing down and adjusting the class to make sure you're clear. If there are few to none, it's a good sign to move on to the next concept.

Dedicated Class Discussion:

  • Before class, come up with some set questions and prompts.
  • In class, if possible, have people get in a shape that allows them to see you as well as their peers. If this is a large lecture, this may not be possible, wherein you need to be prepared to continue facilitating discussion if lulls arise.
  • Ask students to elaborate on responses when necessary to evoke any explanations or evidence they may have for an idea or to clarify any questions they may have.
  • While staying neutral and supportive, bring other students into the conversation by asking for alternative opinions or additional comments.
  • This method is easy to move online as well through Canvas discussion boards.


  • In small groups, assign students different informational materials based on key concepts of the current unit.
  • Have each student explain to the others in their group about their material, its purpose to the unit, and any ideas, questions, and opinions about it.
  • Another option is to assign each group a different topic where they will decide on a "leader" and when you reconvene as a class, the leader of each group shares their discussion points.
  • MIT's Jigsaw video is a helpful resource to get started with this activity.
  • This too can be done in discussion boards if you assign students to respond to certain boards. This creates a group atmosphere that you can allow you to follow!

Peer Instruction:

  • Before class, create a question that addresses an important concept for that day's lesson.
  • During class, pose this question to your students and allow a few minutes to think and record their responses. If you choose to collect these responses, it can be done through pieces of paper,iClicker, a Canvas quiz assignment, Google Slides, or Google Forms.
  • After students have recorded their answers, have students get into pairs or small groups to discuss their answers and how they reached them for a predetermined amount of time. The easiest way to start this step is to have your students turn to their neighbors for discussion. Each group should come to a consensus and a rationale for their answer.
  • If you are teaching remotely, Zoom’s Breakout Rooms feature can be used for student discussion. Once discussion ceases, pose the same question for a second time and collect the new responses.
  • After the new responses are collected, give your own answer to the question, and explain how you reached this conclusion. At this point, the classroom can be opened up to questions or this time can be used to review the revised responses from the students and share with the class either voluntarily or anonymously.
  • For more information on this process and how it works, consider Eric Mazur's Peer Instruction video.

Brame, C.J. and Biel, R. (2015). "Test-enhanced Learning: the potential for testing to promote greater learning in undergraduate science courses.CBE Life Sciences Education, 14, 1-12