Group Discussions…

Following the post about the skills philosophy/ethics students need, we hagve been using the 187 (Skills) module to discuss what procedures might best enable group / class feedback discussions, and whether any ground rules are needed for them… Comments for this post will reflect the in-class thinking – and further comments, as ever, are welcome…


Jo P. Sue K. Sara K. Stephanie C. says:

It is important to set debate ground rules to ensure there is no confusion or offence caused within a discussion. Procedures should include: choosing your own group rather than having groups chosen for you. We thought that having one person move/swap groups to share the fruits of the discussion would be beneficial. Also, we decided that discussions should be formal, with one person speaking at a time. People should be encouraged to speak but not feel under pressure to do so. We also thought that people should be entitled to say their opinion, but should try to word to cause minimum offence. People should respect each others opinion & not take things personally.

We felt that group work is better when there are non-formal roles as when there are no roles work is not as equally distributed. Also, the roles are flexible so if someone feels bold enough to talk when they wouldn’t ususally, they can.We also felt that groups should be organised by the individuals themselves otherwise a group of people could be forced together that are all shy, or all opinionated, causing groups to be less organised. We thought that friendship groups already have roles within them which means that when they work together the roles are already defined.

187 group says:

1)Before presenting to the group the speaker or speakers should be decided.2)Make sure the same person doesn’t speak all the time3)Vary between friendship groups to random groups to ensure everyone gets to know each other and hears many different points of view4)No personal offensive attacks or comments but do not be afraid to speak a strong opinion.5)Don’t let political correctness rule what you are saying.6)Teacher needs to be aware of whether or not people are trying to speak, especially those that are shy. Don’t pick on people but prompt them if they seem like they want to speak.7)Listen when others are speaking -don’t chit chat!!8)Give people informal roles within the group to make sure everybody is involved.9)Smaller groups so that people feel less intimidated to speak, also everyone then has a chance to speak.10)Sometimes groups should be made to argue for a point of view opposite to your own. Happy Debating!!!

Sometimes a careful, cautious discussion, where it is of paramount importance that nobody should be offended, can be confining. A discussion brawl could toss up premature, unfounded or over-baked ideas – maybe the person who is offering his/her idea is simply talking off their head, or sometimes he/she is parroting their grandmother. Just chuck ideas and see who gets passionate and involved. Maybe the ideas are so fledgling that the shy, quiet members of the group also get involved because they don’t feel so inhibited or threatened by ‘clever’ contributions. So maybe relaxing and offering up an unrehearsed argument could be useful as well. Maybe you’ll get shot down or maybe you’ll get a laugh, but liveliness and spontaneity can add an interesting flavour to your discussions (not advised for presentations though).

Anonymous says:

i think its important that groups are not confined to being the same groups of friends week in week out as this does nothing for discovering the depths of other people’s minds outside that friendship circle. varyiation also means that people will get to know each other better and this can lead to people finding it easier to speak up. its important for people to be honest and open about their thoughts and beliefs, and also open to listening to others on their thoughts and beliefs… one would hope that a closed minded stick in the mud individual would not be on such an inquisitive self exploratory course as this anyway!!it is important for the quieter individuals to be encouraged to speak more, we want to know what thoughts they have on the subject too… they are equally as important… but they need to learn to take part more, it cannot all come from tutor encouragement…i don’t think that for group discussion it is important to elect a spokesperson, that can destroy the ‘discussion’ aspect, and again that role is usually given to a more outspoken person, allowing the quieter ones to remain invisible once more.more noise please!!!

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