36 Questions to Help Create a Classroom Tribe

August 12, 2015

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Creating a Learning Tribe Means Making Real Connections

As a new academic year approaches, I am thinking about ways to get and keep my students engaged in our class, and a significant part of that is getting them to connect with one another as they can influence one another’s attitudes and ideas.

Back in 1997 published results of his study about creating closeness (see “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings“) and many people have used the 36 questions from his experiment as a way to increase closeness. As this Psychology Today article points out, two people asking and answering these questions takes about 45 minutes, so it would be hard to use up an entire class period to do in class — and I think pairs might feel more comfortable in a different setting anyway.

As a result, I am considering using this as an “early in the semester” getting to know one another assignment. The information from the “interview” can be used for a partner assignment: each person writes up an introduction to their partner

  • only the partner sees the first draft –> and gives feedback about that information he/she would like shared with the class
  • instructor sees the second draft –> feedback comes in the form of rhetorical and language use “improvement”
  • the third draft is shown to the partner who gives final approval on content
  • final drafts are posted on password protected class website as written introductions of “tribe members”

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