Heated discussions

Sometimes discussions can deteriorate into heated argument. It is your role as a facilitator to prevent this from happening and to defuse any situations that do arise. If you sense that the discussion is headed in a negative direction ask students to raise their hands before speaking. Some of the following phrases can be helpful if your discussion turns into an argument:

  • "Let's slow down a moment."
  • "Hold on. It's not helpful when five people jump all over what their classmate says. Let's give Russ a break."
  • "It seems like we need to identify those areas we can agree upon and those areas where we disagree. Let's start with those things we all agree with."
  • "This isn't getting us anywhere. Those who want to continue on this point can do so outside of class. Let's move on to a new topic."

You can also use conflicts as the basis for a homework assignment, to be written out away from the heat of the moment (Source: McKeachie, 1986).