Class discussion

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A class discussion is a teaching form in which a school class tried talking an issue or a given task to be solved. The teacher takes rather in a class discussion directing tasks in communication . It stimulates contributions and guides the conversation.


A distinction is made in more precise analyzes without a sharp distinction:

  • the debate , the argument , the discussion : relatively free discussion of a problem while observing communication rules,
  • The free class discussion (also student discussion ): the teacher largely holds back after the initial impulse and trusts in the continuation by the students themselves, who turn to each other,
  • The guided class discussion ( teaching discussion ): the teacher specifies the content and goal and encourages students to provide appropriate answers,
  • the questioning-developing class discussion : the teacher develops the problem from the perspective and partly in the language of the students using their previous knowledge,
  • The Socratic conversation ( Maeutic conversation ): the teacher asks the questions in such a way that the students come up with the solution by themselves, which is precisely foreseen by the teacher, as well as
  • the examination interview: interview to assess performance, partly as catechesis .

Students should be encouraged to make longer contributions, even if these do not yet contain the complete solution of the problem posed or are based on incorrect assumptions. Through the conversation, the teacher can get an idea of ​​the class, get feedback on their knowledge, and move on to the exercise.

The “teacher echo”, in which the teacher repeats the student contribution unchanged, is assessed negatively today, partly to make it easier to understand through its volume.

The training of a culture of conversation can be seen as the promotion of democratic education , because the responsible citizen should be able to contribute to the political debate.


The main point of criticism is that, for the individual student, a class discussion consists of almost 100% listening (example: with 25 students, even participation and without any involvement of the teacher, 96% other students speak, the respective student 4%). This runs counter to all educational and psychological insights that listening is the least effective form of learning. In practice, a large part of the speaking time is devoted to the teacher, so that the active time of the individual students is even less. From the teacher's point of view, however, the class discussion is falsely more activating, since he generally exercises the priority right to speak.

It is therefore often criticized that the “guided class discussion” is the most common form of school teaching, although it does not give the pupils the freedom to work and think independently.

The problem in this context is that, according to the decrees of the ministries of education for performance assessment, the oral grade should be given on the basis of the "contributions to the classroom discussion" (e.g.).

The reform pedagogue Willy Potthoff pointed out the problems that arise from the divergence between the common train of thought of the school class and the individual learning processes of the individual pupils during class discussions.


  • Stefan Bittner: The class discussion. Forms and procedures of dialogical teaching and learning . 2006. ISBN 3781514706
  • Hilbert Meyer: teaching methods II: practice volume . Cornelsen, Berlin 1987 (many editions)
  • Willy Potthoff: The class discussion as a form of learning . In: Studium heute, Volume 21, Volume 6 (June 1970), pp. 259–264

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Lower Saxony Ministry of Culture: Core curriculum for secondary school, grades 5 - 10 [1]