You should try to encourage contributions from all the students. The best discussions will be those where all the students participate in the conversation.
Try to limit comments from those students who repeatedly contribute ideas and opinions by calling on other students. While the discussion does not need to be shared evenly, it is important that all the students be encouraged to join in and share. Get comments from the shy students by calling on them during discussions. A discussion should never be ongoing between just the lecturer and one other student. Involve the rest of the class.
Gender inequality plays a large role in how the students participate in discussions. Often, male students are more confident to participate and take leadership roles, while female students often keep quiet.
The same goes for those who agree to take on the role of a spokesperson. More often than not, male students will volunteer to be the spokespersons compared to females. Ensure that you address this by building the confidence of female students through assigning them group roles and choosing them as spokespersons as well.
Ideas to help students answer questions and contribute to discussions
Ask the class a question then throw a soft ball or wad of paper at a student. Ask the student to respond to the question. The student can toss the ball back to you or you can ask them to throw it at someone else to respond to the same or the next question.
Write each person’s name on a piece of paper. Put the papers in a bag, bowl, basket or any other container. Ask the class a question. Then pull a piece of paper with a person’s name from the container and encourage them to respond to the question. Do not put their name back into the container. Then pull other students’ names out of the container and ask them to answer other questions. When everyone has answered a question, return all the names into the container.
Another option is to put the person’s name back into the container immediately. If you do that, they will be forced to be prepared to answer all further questions.