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EDF4604: Final Artifact

Guide for APA, Annotated Bibliography, Plagiarism, RefWorks & Critical Dialogue


What: A Critical Dialogue is a conversation that inspires insight and wisdom on a particular topic, both for the individuals participating in the discussion and the collective thinking of the group.

Why: When we make our thought processes visible, we have the opportunity to gain clarity on our ideas and allow others to gain understanding of our perspectives. We become more aware of our beliefs (convictions, deep feelings, attitudes) and whether or not they are based on assumptions to be discarded or enhance the value of our thinking. Critical dialogue produces a shared meaning that stems from individual collaboration.

Guidelines for Dialogue

  1. Set the Container Make sure the dialogue takes place in a positive and energetic environment. Sit facing each other or in a circle if the group is more than two people.
  2. Suspend Judgment Do not give up your judgment; look at your convictions with a critical eye. Place importance on learning and openness as opposed to knowing.
  3. Listen Develop an inner silence rather than simply waiting for the opportunity to present our own thoughts. Embrace the comments and opinions of others.
  4. Listen with Empathy Listen cooperatively and honor the experiences of others. It is not a competition or debate to be won.
  5. Find and Use Your Authentic Voice Speak as you normally would. There is no benefit to using formal language that you would not use in everyday conversation. In fact, it can inhibit the process.
  6. Express Opinion Based on Observations and Experience Stick to the facts. We are not aware of how heavy our own assumptions can weigh on our thinking. Use "I" when expressing your opinions.
  7. Allow for Diversity Diversity of thought only enriches the emerging meaning in group dialogue. Be present in the moment rather than speaking from emotional memory.
  8. Listen Without Resistance Be cognizant of the way you present your viewpoint as a reaction. You do not have to agree with someone, but you can train yourself to listen in a way that allows for acceptance of a new idea.
  9. Respect Respect is a key element to successful critical dialogue. We must respect that others have things to teach us, just as we should expect that others hold us in the same regard during discussion.
  10. Balance Advocacy and inquiry need to be balanced for good critical dialogue. Advocacy is generally opinion expressed in statements, and inquiry is the method for seeking to understand others' statements through questions.

Listen With Empathy

Find your inner silence. You cannot be a good listener if you're focusing on your own next words.

Be alert to the feelings of others through facial expression and tone of voice.

Make eye contact and focus your attention on the speaker.

Put your phones, tablets, and laptops away during the critical dialogue, please!

Do not interrupt others or interject if someone else seems to be having trouble putting their thoughts into words. Be patient and respectful.

Look for strengths in others' ideas rather than focusing on weakness. This is not only respectful; it also helps the meaning of the dialogue emerge because only thoughts of value are extracted in the process.

Understand that you do not have to agree with other ideas, but you need to have a clear idea of what they mean.

Be curious and inquisitive when it comes to new ideas and things that you have not considered.

Helpful Hints and Tools for Dialogue

1. Start with one question. Each person answers the question asked and then asks another question in structured form to get the dialogue flowing.

2. Itemized response: state what you take away as valuable from another's idea or statement. Build and strengthen the idea of value.

Remember: Dialogue is a creative exploration. It has a core that builds out from it; it is not a presentation of two sides.

Source: Marchel, C. A. (2007). Learning to Talk/Talking to learn: Teaching critical dialogue. Teaching Educational Psychology, 2(1), 1-15.