The example assignment below asks students to report an unusual pronunciation they may hear. Notice that I also include an example so that students have a model of what to listen for. In one response, the student reports she heard a Minnesotan pronounce the word root so that it rhymes with book, instead of standard boot.
As many instructors know, discussion boards are an excellent way to encourage students to further reflect on content outside of the classroom. Unlike in-class discussions, students have more time to reflect on their answers and quieter students may be able to contribute more without a fear of being interrupted or overlooked. Discussion boards also allow students to observe linguistic phenomena, then shaire their findings with other students. I tended to use discussion boards more in sociolinguistics classes because the content deals more with subconcscious attitudes towards language, which should be explored and discussed.
However I may continue to use that in other linguistics classes to ask students to keep an informal journal. If nothing else, it's an excellent way to discover new data.
I require students to fill out an intro survey which includes questions on interestes and background. One side benefit is that I find "experts" in the classrooom which I might know about otherwise. For instance, one student was a bilingual Spanish speaker; another might be from Texas, but speak with a standard accent. Even regions of Pennsylvania can differ. All my students can become "native speaker" experts for their native languages and dialects, and can also become experts in different hobbies or disciplines.
Below are some questions I might typically ask: