Many field instructors have found this simple routine to be transformative for their field experiences with students because it is so effective at sparking discourse. Thought Swap is easy to lead and supports student participation by focusing on one-on-one discussion. The routine is particularly useful at the beginning of an activity or sequence of activities as a way to activate students’ prior knowledge or at the end of an activity or sequence of activities to create space for reflection. Thought Swap can be done in one place (stationary version) or while a group is moving from one location to the next (moving version). In both versions, students discuss prompts and questions in rotating pairs.
This discussion routine helps establish a learning community and a culture of discussion in which students value sharing and listening to one another’s ideas, observations, lived experiences, and perspectives. A healthy learning community that centers student discussion and ideas is a key part of an effective, equitable, and inclusive learning environment. Thought Swap also supports an inclusive learning experience by scaffolding student skills for participating in large-group discussions and by setting up a structure in which instructors and students are learning from one another.
• Discuss various topics and questions with peers.
• Improve listening skills.
• Build discussion skills.
• Use scientific language to exchange ideas.
• Have the opportunity to share ideas with the group.