A session on the significance of classroom discussions was facilitated by Genevieve
Graessle and Jennifer Edo, who are both Student Fellows at the Adam Center. The students
talked about the importance of preparing for in-class discussions, and inculcating discussions
specifically into science-based classrooms. One of the approaches discussed was connecting our
Christian faith with our course content. This encourages students to engage deeply with the
course material thereby improving their understanding and allowing them to appreciate how God
communicates through us.

Jennifer spoke from her experience in STEM classrooms, while Genevieve brought in
examples from her time in the Humanities. Not only are classes with discussion participation
opportunities often more fruitful, but it is also extremely important for professors to come
prepared to these discussions. Because professors expect students to come prepared to the
classroom, students should be able to expect the same in return. It is obvious and usually
unfruitful when a professor is coming up with the class structure for the day off the cuff. These
experiences can be starkly contrasted with valuable and reading in-class discussions, where it is
clear the professor has planned ahead, after thinking critically about the reading on their own
time. Genevieve brought a few examples of worthwhile discussion questions on handouts from
classes with Dr. Todd Womble, that help students to actively learn and participate in their own

● “What stood out to you most in your reading of the story? What do you take away
from it?”
● “How is this book’s depiction of grief similar to or different from other things
you’ve seen, read, or been told about grief?”
● “In what ways–if any–are your expectations as a reader of nonfiction different
from your expectations as a reader of fiction?”
● “In 2023, do we still need the terms “masculinity” and “femininity”? Have we
moved past these terms since 1998? Do they still bring value to our world? Why
or why not?”

These are just a few examples that assisted students in thinking critically about the
reading and work that they were already doing. This obviously does work into a very specific
teaching style that Dr. Womble has incorporated into his classes, but discussion like this is still
important to all classes in all fields. It is crucial that students can still be given the chance to
contribute to the conversation and make real-world connections. This is the value that comes
with unique class structures and various avenues for engagement. Our education should be like a
conversation, with both parties coming to class willing to learn and to grow and maybe even to
change our minds about something.

Good discussion, then, is a direct vehicle for living in the ACU difference inside the
classroom. Students are privileged to have a voice and active role in their own education here,
and professors can personally know and learn from their students. We make it a priority for
instructors to really know their students and make a personal connection, and maybe even a
difference in their lives. Often, students will not go out of their way to visit professors’ office
hours or to ask a challenging question after a lecture; but if prompted, if they are directly handed
the chance to engage in their own education, the ACU difference plays itself out in a classroom
setting. Students and professors can know and be known, through this method of learning in

After their Adams Center presentation, Genevieve and Jennifer answered many questions
from faculty in attendance about their own experiences and struggles with discussion in the
classroom. The students addressed the issue of time– regarding professors having so much
material to cover but often too little time. One of the suggestions discussed was having a
participation grade or ungraded reflective discussions outside of the classroom setting. It can also
be an obstacle to get different students to participate in discussions, instead of having just a few
voices dominate. Some things that could be helpful here would be allowing students to discuss in
small groups first and then going around the room to share, or saying something like, “does
anyone on this side of the room have anything to add?”