A classroom dialogue is a facilitated conversation within a CU class that provides an opportunity for participants to share their experiences and speak from their own perspectives while also challenging participants to understand why they hold a perspective. A dialogue is both an introspective and sharing process which allows differing viewpoints to be held side-by-side. The goal is for participants to gain a deeper understanding of their own and others’ perspectives on a topic or issue. A dialogue does not aim to persuade or push a certain perspective but to help participants understand varying viewpoints. The facilitator helps promote introspection and critical thinking about the perspectives participants hold.

Why Hold a Classroom Dialogue?

In a classroom dialogue a facilitator leads a dialogue on a specific topic planned in collaboration with the faculty member requesting the dialogue. Dialogues are tailored to fit specific course content and curricular goals. A classroom dialogue is yet another tool that faculty can use to support or achieve course objectives. At the same time, a dialogue provides students with a new, experiential way to understand course material. 

A facilitated classroom dialogue is an effective way to address complex and/or contentious issues within a classroom setting.

Every time I participate in a dialogue my teaching improves.  Faculty comment after a classroom dialogue. 

"I think inviting [students] to share their own stories is an opportunity they wouldn't have otherwise had. I got to know where students are coming from on a deeper level." - Faculty comment after a classroom dialogue.

A dialogue sparks engaged learning through an open exchange of perspectives that deepens students’ understanding of an issue or topic.

“[The dialogue] made me understand and connect the issues of oppression and classism…now I have a personal experience with seeing the impact of society’s standards and how that affects [real people].”– Student comment after a dialogue on the topic of classism in a President’s Leadership Class practicum

The dialogue process promotes analysis of course content and encourages reflection.

“I learned that gender issues are attached to or are [contributing] factors to many other injustices and problems our society faces…everything is related somehow.” – Student comment after a dialogue on the topic of gender and culture in a Women’s Literature course

Dialogues provide a means to encourage inclusive practices in the classroom.

"I just wrote a paper on how in America there is a shyness around race and ethnicity. [The dialogue] allowed us to overcome this shyness and find out about other cultures.” – Student comment after a dialogue on the topic of diversity at CU in a Multicultural Rhetorics course

Examples of Classroom Dialogue Topics Across a Range of Disciplines

  • Hiring and retaining critical human resources in a Business course. For this dialogue, we invited formerly incarcerated citizens to share their experiences in returning to the workforce.  

  • Designing sustainable communities in an Engineering course. In this dialogue students discussed their perspectives and experiences on inclusion as it pertains to design projects.

  • Gender and ambition in a Women's Literature course. In this dialogue we invited community participants from different age groups. This added a cross-generational perspective to a unit about how gender influences career goals and work ambition

  • Employer-Employee Relations in a Business course. For this dialogue members of CU's custodial staff participated in a conversation on how employers can foster a sense of community among employees.

  • Affirmative Action in a Sociology course. In this dialogue students and community participants from a range of racial/ethnic backgrounds exchanged experiences and perspectives related to affirmative action as a social policy.

  • Diversity and Difference in a Leadership course. For this dialogue we invited community participants from different social and cultural identities joined students for a conversation about their ideas on diversity and difference.