Why teach group discussion skills?
Participants taking sides and refusing to compromise Apathetic participation If the discussion seems to be flagging, it can help to introduce a new question or alter the task so as to bring a fresh kind of thinking or a different group dynamic to bear.
For example, you might switch from discussing an ethical issue in the abstract to a concrete case study, or shift from large-group discussion to small group or pair-work.
Bring Closure It is important to leave time at the end of the discussion to synthesize the central issues covered, key questions raised, etc.
There are a number of ways to synthesize. Synthesizing the discussion is a critical step for linking the discussion to the original learning objectives and demonstrating progress towards meeting those objectives.
Social and Emotional Factors: Demonstrate Relevance While students generally enjoy discussions, they may have difficulty recognizing what they gain from participating in them — in contrast with lectures, in which students may take copious notes and have a sense of having covered clearly discernable ground.
It is helpful to tell students up front how you think the skills they gain from participating in discussion will help them in academic and future pursuits. Discussions for this class will give you the opportunity to practice that skill. As we talk, think about a conversation with a colleague in medical school and imagine how you would articulate this argument and suggest a productive fusion of both approaches to medicine.
Below are some strategies that can help encourage meaningful student participation.
Create a discussion climate early. Plan an icebreaker early in the semester that gets students talking and interacting, preferably while doing an activity that is integral to the content material for the course. Also, create a climate in which students feel comfortable taking intellectual risks: Require students to prepare for discussion.
Discussions tend to be most productive when students have already done some preparatory work for them. It can be helpful to give assignments to help students to prepare for discussion.
Get to know your students. Students are more likely to participate if they feel that they are recognized as individuals.
Model exemplary discussion behavior. Often, students must learn how to enter meaningfully into a discussion. One way to encourage students to engage in the style of intellectual exchange you desire is to model good discussion techniques in your own behavior, using language that demonstrates, among other things: On its own, instructor modeling is not likely to affect student behavior, however.
It is also important to explicitly point out the kinds of discussion skills illustrated above and to distinguish high-quality contributions e. Explicit ground rules or guidelines can help to ensure a respectful environment for discussion.
The ground rules you use will depend on your class size and goals, but may include provisions such as these: Click on these links to see examples of ground rules and a template for creating student-generated ground rules. If a subset of students seems reluctant to speak up in class, you might consider ways for them to share their ideas and engage with the material in an alternative forum, such as via discussion board or e-mail.
Giving students time to write down their thoughts before opening the floor to discussion can also help quiet students get more involved.
So too can the use of pair-work and small-group discussions. While some faculty are reluctant to call on quiet students for fear of embarrassing them, it should be pointed out that calling on students can also liberate them: Sometimes the problem is not shy students but overly domineering or aggressive students who monopolize discussion.
Sometimes a subtle approach to reining in these students can be effective for example: Handling strong emotions and disagreement that arise in a discussion can be a challenge for instructors. A certain amount of disagreement is desirable, yet if the conversation gets too heated or antagonistic, it can inhibit participation and squelch a productive exchange of ideas.
When emotions are high, remind students to focus on ideas and refrain from personal comments this stipulation can be included in your ground rules as well.
Also, consider in advance how you will handle sensitive discussion topics. Discussions that do so may not be comfortable for some participants yet still have the desired effect. On the other hand, done poorly such discussions can stifle rather than stimulate engagement and learning.
Also, think about whether the discussion environment in your classroom is sufficiently inclusive of all your students, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion, religion, etc.
Assign pair and small-group work. As a prelude or addition to full-class discussion, consider giving pairs or small groups of students the task of discussing a question or problem. Group work tends to work best when the task is clearly defined and concrete.Purpose.
Despite communication skills training in medical school, junior doctors continue to demonstrate poor patient-doctor communication skills, where patient unhappiness from the encounter often manifests as patient complaints. Study skills for university. Our resources will help you with everything from reading to note-taking, and time management to exams.
A well-planned discussion can encourage and stimulate student learning and add variety to your class. Hand out study questions before your discussion, so students can think about concepts or respond in writing.
a brief summary that highlights the main points of the discussion is a good idea. Study Island is a leading academic software provider of standards-based assessment, instruction, and test preparation e-learning programs.
Dartmouth Writing Program support materials - including development of argument. Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing. Mind Mirror Projects: A Tool for Integrating Critical Thinking into the English Language Classroom (), by Tully, in English Teaching Forum, State Department, Number 1 Critical Thinking Across the .
Study skills are not just for students. Study skills are transferable - you will take them with you beyond your education into new contexts. For example, organisational skills, time management, prioritising, learning how to analyse, problem solving, and the self-discipline that is required to remain motivated.