Discussion Questions

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Discussion Questions

Each week, we ask you to write and submit four discussion questions by Wednesday at 12 noon. The four questions should open ended and directly concern the reading or homework for that week. 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.

We ask you to send your questions because we are interested in what has made you think, what you think deserves more attention, or what is puzzling. You can certainly send questions that you don't know the answer to! More generally, I want to reinforce the idea that we should all be generating questions as we read, rather than looking only for the "right" answers. Further, as we will discuss, 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 week's materials readings in mind. Always feel free to think across the readings and discussions but do not make your questions only about something from lecture.
Here are some good and bad example discussion questions for the first of the assigned readings, due for section in the first week:

A discussion question: How does gender as a metaphor shape Lese and Efe people’s lives?
Another discussion question: Do you think the people described in this article are happy with their lives? Do they feel discrimination? If so, from whom?

 a discussion question: When did Zaire become a nation independent of colonizing forces?
Notice that this question is really asking for a fact. That’s not an open-ended question.

Also not a discussion question: Isn’t women’s body hair gross?
While it might prompt conversation, and you’re welcome to share such a thought in our class discussion, merely asking a yes / no question isn’t creating a discussion question. Your questions need to be open ended.

We look forward to your questions!