Writing an Effective Thesis for Student Discussions

The thesis is the starting point of all discussions on Kialo, so it’s important to pick one that facilitates what you want students to get out of the discussion.

Before starting, be aware that Kialo discussions can either be single-thesis or multi-thesis (see: Multi- vs. Single-Thesis Discussions).

Tip: When first trying out Kialo Edu, we recommend starting with a single-thesis discussion. Multi-thesis discussions can quickly become complicated for students not familiar with Kialo.

First, pick a topic for students to debate. In general, a good guiding principle for what will best engage students is to look for something they’re learning about that they might disagree with each other on. Essay discussion questions often make for good classroom debates.

For example, if you were studying the Human Genome Project with your high school Biology class, you might ask your students to debate whether insurance companies should be allowed to access customers’ genetic testing results. A university class studying a philosophy course might have a debate about the right approach to solving a classic thought experiment like the trolley problem.

Next, consider the scope of the discussion that you want your students to have. Big, sweeping questions usually lead to larger and more complex discussions. A thesis that’s too narrow and specific may not give students anything to say beyond a few shallow points. For a quick, fun debate in the classroom, you want to find the sweet spot between those extremes – enough space for students to explore ideas without getting overwhelmed by options.

A discussion thesis should be expressed in a way that effectively communicates the intended discussion to students. If the thesis is ambiguous, students may be confused about what they’re supposed to be discussing. You can use the background information box (see: Adding Background Info) to clarify any ideas, terms, or information you anticipate may confuse students.

Was this article helpful?

Back to top