Ground Rules: Examples & Resources

Many teaching and learning scholars recommend that you use ground rules to establish a productive classroom community. Here are a few examples you might consider as you collaborate with your students to craft useful rules for civil discourse:

  • Listen actively to each speaker
  • Avoid interrupting
  • Connect your comments to the conversation
  • Learn your classmates’ names
  • Be respectful of other people’s opinions, even if they are different from yours
  • Try to keep an open mind
  • Put away your cell phones and laptops unless they are part of the class activities


  • Brave Spaces Guidelines. The Women’s Center.
  • Establishing discussion rules. In K. Landis (Ed.). Start talking: A handbook for engaging difficult dialogues in higher education. (pp. 12-17). Anchorage: University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University.
  • “What Are Ground Rules and How Can We Use Them.” In How Learning Works (Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, & Norman, 2010, Appendix E) Available in the FDC library.
  • University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University’s handbook, Start Talking: A Handbook for Engaging Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education, offers a chapter on Ground Rules.
  • Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching’s Difficult Dialogues


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