Practice: Complicating The Narrative with SJN

Improving classroom discussions: Complicating the Narratives with Solutions Journalism Network

***Follow-up resources and workshop review found here***

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. 

RSVP Required

Join the Center for Teaching and Learning for a special workshop with the Solutions Journalism Network on engaging the Complicating the Narratives Framework for productive classroom discussions. Effective classroom discussions enhance student engagement and deepen understanding of course content, particularly among students who prefer active learning. However, positive results are contingent on how instructors lead discussions; active facilitation, the incorporation of student experiences, thoughtful questions, a supportive classroom environment, and the affirmation of student perspectives have all been identified as components of effective discussion facilitation. With an ongoing global pandemic and numerous social, cultural, and governmental tensions occupying the news, we know students already face plentiful distractions to learning – but strong discussion facilitation is one classroom factor well within our control. To that end, this workshop will introduce participants to the Solutions Journalism Network’s Complicating the Narratives (CTN) initiative. 

Complicating the Narratives is a framework born out of conflict mediation strategies and used by journalists to report stories about polarizing issues; a CTN approach leverages complexity as a tool for uncovering truth and reconciling inconsistencies. In the classroom, it furthers engagement and understanding via four pillars:

  1. Amplify contradictions and widen the lens of analysis
  2. Ask questions to discover people’s motivations
  3. Listen more and better
  4. Counter confirmation bias

This session will focus on the CTN framework as a tool to promote deep listening, encourage connections between course content and students’ lived experiences, and overcome some common barriers to student participation (including conflict aversion and implicit bias) in both traditional and online classrooms. After a short lecture contextualizing the CTN framework, we will practice fundamental CTN techniques and explore how to customize these approaches for different course topics. Please come prepared with a syllabus for the class(es) you would like to work on and a brief reflection of your strongest and weakest moments leading class discussions in the past.

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