EPIC Innovations: Talk Tickets & Talk Moves

Instructor Name: Shane Crosby

Course Title: English Composition 2 – Approaches to University Writing
Department: Writing Programs
Enrollment: 19
Level: Undergraduate

General Category of Innovation: Improving Class Discussions

Prior to a whole-group discussion, each student writes their name on two or three slips of paper; these are their Talk Tickets. During the discussion, students submit a Talk Ticket each time they contribute. They are expected to submit all their tickets prior to the end of the discussion, and to refrain from contributing if they have no tickets left (until everyone has used all their tickets). To facilitate discussion, the instructor provides students with a list of Talk Moves: example language for engaging with others’ ideas during an academic conversation.

Rationale for Innovation

I noticed that a lot of the whole-group discussions in my undergraduate classes followed the same pattern: I would pose a question, a student (either a volunteer or someone I called on) would answer the question, and the cycle would repeat. Furthermore, it tended to be the same handful of students who contributed to every discussion. I saw very little crosstalk, where students respond to each other’s ideas or pose questions to each other. One of my goals as an instructor is to hear from all my students, not just the naturally talkative ones; Talk Tickets are a way to encourage everyone to contribute. Another of my goals is for my students to become better at having “teacherless” academic conversations with each other, and that’s where the Talk Moves come in. They support students who might not know how to engage with each other’s ideas.

Intended Effect of Innovation

One goal was to see more than just a handful of students engaging in whole-group discussions. Another goal was to see more crosstalk by the end of the quarter, compared to the beginning. I wanted them to have these skills and this agency so they could take more initiative in their learning process. Although difficult to track, I also hoped the skills would transfer to their other classes, as well. And my long-term goal was to give students a graduate-level drive (and ability) to participate in academic discussions.

Resources for Faculty Considering this Innovation

Research That Supports this Innovation