Discussion Questions

[Header image is of a bunraku performance]

The most regular assignment in this course should take no more than a few minutes a week: By 5pm the day before lecture, every student will submit FOUR open-ended discussion questions that directly concern the homework due. These questions should not be inquiries for more factual information. One quick way to decide if you have generated a discussion question is to ask yourself if you could find the answer to your question by searching the internet. If you could – if you are asking for facts – then it is not a discussion question. All questions will be graded on a credit / no credit basis, which means as long as you turn in open-ended questions on time, you will receive full credit. When you are assigned multiple materials in the same session, you need to turn in four questions total, not four questions for each chapter assigned.

Please submit your discussion questions via Canvas. You are welcome to work ahead and submit questions early.

I ask you to share your questions because I am interested in what has made you think, what you think deserves more attention, or what is puzzling. More generally, I want to reinforce the idea that we should all be generating questions as we read, rather than looking for the "right" answers. Further, as I will discuss in class, it is actually quite difficult to come up with good questions and learning to do so is a skill. Please take this opportunity to be creative. Don't be afraid to ask big questions, but please keep that day's readings in mind. Always feel free to think across the readings and discussions.

I will use your questions to shape lectures and might refer to you by name. If you aren't in lecture, that's fine. You are never responsible for answering your question but I might ask you to explain the thinking that brought you to this question.

Here are some good and bad example discussion questions for the first of the assigned readings, due for our third meeting:

A discussion question: Do you think most humans have felt something like "2D love"?
Not a discussion question: What does “2D love” mean?
Notice that the second question is really asking for a fact, or reading comprehension. That’s not an open-ended question.

Also not a discussion question: I think the man profiled sounds pretty insane, do you agree?
While it might prompt discussion, and you’re welcome to share such a thought in discussion, merely asking a yes / no question isn’t creating a discussion question.