Peer Facilitation Techniques

Here are some examples of different kinds of peer facilitation prompts that can be used for online discussions.  (Obviously these prompts can be used by the instructor as well.)


Example: What is the name of this theory . . .?

Giving Direct Instruction

Example: I think in class we mentioned that . . .

Giving Examples

Example: I was once able to solve this sort of problem once when I . . .


Example: Wow, I’m impressed . . .

Providing cognitive task structuring

Example: You know, the task asks you to do . . .

Asking for cognitive elaborations

 Example: Provide more information here that explains your rationale.

Pushing exploration

Example: You might want to write to professor Smith for . . .

Fostering reflection

Example: Restate again what the scientist did here.

Encouraging articulation

Example: What was the problem-solving process the professor faced here?

Giving general advice

Example: If I was faced with this situation, I would . . .

These examples were adapted from Bonk, Curtis J., and K. A. Kim. “Extending Sociocultural Theory to Adult Learning.” In Smith, M. C.,  and T. Pourchot, eds., Adult Learning and Development: Perspectives from Educational Psychology, pp. 67-88.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, 1998.

Liu, et al., “Exploring Four Dimensions of Online Instructor Roles: A Program Level Case Study”

Liu, Xiaojing, Curt J. Bonk, Richard J. Magjukia, Seung-hee Lee, and Bude Su, “Exploring Four Dimensions of Online Instructor Roles: A Program Level Case Study.”  Online Learning Journal, vol. 9, no. 4 (December 2005), 29-48.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to understand the practice of online facilitation in a Midwestern university which has a highly successful traditional MBA program. This study explored the instructors’ perceptions regarding four dimensions of instructor roles using Berge’s [1] classifications: pedagogical, managerial, social, and technical. This study also examined the challenges and issues confronting online instructors when fulfilling these roles. The results suggest that instructors carried out several important roles to varying degrees. The findings reveal a stronger emphasis on the pedagogical roles (course designer, profession-inspirer, feedback-giver, and interaction-facilitator). Emphasizing those roles, the instructors promote three types of interactions: student-content, student-student, and student-teacher. A lesser emphasis on social roles represented mixed feelings regarding its importance to the instructors. While students rated the instructors very positively, the results also indicate that instructors still need to have their roles transformed pedagogically, socially, and technologically if they are to establish a more engaging and fruitful environment for online learning.

The article is available here:

Or, here: v9n4_liu_1