University of Wisconsin–Madison

Face to Face Discussions in Hybrid Classes

Face to face discussions in hybrid classes help students and instructors collectively synthesize course material in real-time. Learning is most likely to occur when “it is understood that the purpose of discussions is to encourage holistic thinking and understanding through challenging ideas and beliefs” (R. A. Ellis et al., 2006). During discussions, students are given the opportunity to share their insights with a small group of classmates before presenting their conclusions to the instructor and the class as a whole. The purpose of this is to develop a range of relevant perspectives in order to thoroughly explore the topic at hand (Salter et al., 2016). This practice is successful when all group members are engaged in the conversation, and the instructor assists in strengthening the conclusions made to align with course objectives. 

3 Tips for Leading a Successful F2F discussion

Present Students with Course Material Prior to Discussion

Online course materials can supplement face-to-face (F2F) discussions, and help students come prepared to have a more meaningful and rewarding in-person discussion experience. This may include videos, websites, required readings, lecture recordings, or any other online resources.

Group Structures are Important

Whether in small groups, pairs, or as a whole class, collaboration is key. This allows students to learn from each other, explore new perspectives, and strengthens their overall understanding of course material.

Be Actively Engaged and Encourage it in Return

Students appreciate when instructors are properly engaged with the course material and make themselves available both during and outside of scheduled class time. They care more about a class where they have personal contact with the instructor, which is the principal benefit of face-to-face interaction (Glazier, Harris, 2020).


Implementation Guides:

Here is a guide to facilitating Small-Group F2F Discussions.

Resources and References

How and what university students learn through online and face-to-face discussion: conceptions, intentions and approaches – R. A. Ellis, P. Goodyear, M. Prosser & A. O’Hara (2006)

Comparing face-to-face and asynchronous online communication as mechanisms for critical reflective dialogue – Susan Salter ,Tracy Douglas, and David Kember (2016)

Common Traits of the Best Online and Face-to-face Classes: Evidence from Student Surveys – Rebecca A. Glazier, Heidi Skurat Harris (2020)