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Organizing Discussion

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Five characteristics of effective in-class group discussions Spend some time thinking about ways you can act on these recommendations. To the extent that you can meet their objectives, you will enhance communication skills that are of value in the classroom now. These skills will also be viewed favourably by employers in the future. 1. Positive interdependence: Each group member should share a group task, a mutual goal, and common resources (a shared text or problem). 2. Face-to-face interaction and advocacy: You should assist, encourage, and support each other in learning. 3. Individual responsibility: Each group member has a responsibility to contribute to the group and do her/his ‘fair share’. Small group work is enhanced when you divide group member roles among yourselves. When you exercise these roles, you develop skills in leading, making decisions, building trust, and managing conflict. All of these skills are of value in today’s workplace. Some typical roles include a team leader, a recorder/clerk, a reporter and a language guard. Match these roles with their descriptions:  
  who keeps the group on task and focused. She/he reads the assignment to the group, mediates conflict, and manages time, is responsible for ensuring that all group members are heard
  who takes minutes and writes down salient points
  who reports back to the class as a whole
  who makes sure English is spoken during discussions

 

4. Group processing: Each group concludes their work together by sharing the results of their work with others. 5. Group assessment: Each group needs to regularly assess the effectiveness of its communication strategies and seek ways to improve group communication. Try to answer the following questions after the group discussion: What is working? What isn’t? How can the groups function more effectively?  

 

GETTING STARTED   1. Silence is O.K. Think before speaking. 2. Maintain roles. Once each member of a group has an assigned role (e.g., clerk) for the day, agree to those roles and do not switch. 3. If you do not understand what another person has said, ask for clarification. 4. Respect the contributions of others. One of the ways we learn from in-class discussions is from seeing things from perspective different from our own. 5. Try to give "equal air time" to everyone in the group.

 



 

 


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