GROUP WORK - Learning Through Discussion (LTD)

Most of our class will involve small and large group discussions of assigned reading.  In LTD, you must first relate what the author stated, apply what you learned to other situations, and then evaluate the new ideas.  These steps involve memory, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  We will follow a specific format for LTD which will follow a specific thee-part plan.

A.  Process Plan -

  1. Checking-in (2-4 minutes):  Introduction of group members.  Greet each other, express feelings about upcoming discussion.
  2. Vocabulary (3-4 minutes):  Discussion of difficult vocabulary words from the reading. 
  3. General statement of author's message (5-6 minutes):   Done to get a general understanding of author's view. Should be stated in own words.  Students should repeat in their own words the understandings articulated by other students.
  4. Identification and discussion of major themes (10-12 minutes): Identify 3-4 themes or topics presented by author.  This is not the time to express your own points of view, which might prevent you from understanding what the author has written.
  5. Application of material to other works (15 minutes):   Relate learning in assignment to ideas and concepts studied in previous assignments or other situations. 
  6. Application of material to self (10-12 minutes):    What is the significance or value of the information for you?
  7. Evaluation of the author's presentation (3-4 minutes):  Student express personal feelings but above all, critically assess logic, conclusions, methods of author
  8. Evaluation of group and individual performances (7-8 minutes):  In considering how well group covered subject, what areas of agreements were reached, how differences were resolved or needed further clarification, consider

B.   Criteria for Developing and Effective Discussion Group - Expectations of Groups

  1. Members must regularly attend and become prepared to discuss the material by bringing a prepared outline to class.
  2. Group discussion is a cooperative, not competitive learning experience
  3. Everyone is expected to participate and interact
  4. Group sessions and the task of learning should take place in an accepting and friendly learning environment
  5. The material is adequately and sufficiently covered
  6. Group process and individual contributions must be evaluated through constructive feedback (both positive and negative).

Four kinds of statements can be made in small group discussions.   :

C.  Roles and Skills

-  Sequence of Tasks

  1. Initiating - someone must start the discussion
  2. Giving and asking for information - all members must
  3. Giving and asking for reactions - Don't just give your reaction.  Respond to others.
  4. Restating and giving examples - Restating someone's idea is a good feedback step and helps communication.  Examples clarify complex situations.
  5. Confronting and reality testing - Misinformation and misstatements can't be allowed to pass. 
  6. Clarifying, Synthesizing, and summarizing - Must occur periodically to keep focused. 

- Overall task rolls

  1. Gatekeeping (to ensure participation by all) and expediting
  2. Timekeeping
  3. Evaluating and diagnosing:  performed by all.

- Nonfunctional roles assumed by group members

  1. Silent member:  All member work together to find causes  and ways to increase participation:
    - lack of knowledge: member encouraged to be responsible for authors general statement
    - confusion due to group process:  others define present step or summarize
    - not understanding the discussion:  others ask for questions from group
    - slow responder in quick group:  group should recognize and pause
    - shyness:  others encourage shy member to respond when they show signs of responding
  2. Overparticipant:  When someone's talk does help with the goal, that is too long in relation to the goal, or that makes others uncomfortable
    - dominant one answers in ways that quiet all others: ask for others' opinions
    - repeater who reiterates same point over again:  others jump in an acknowledge
  3. Wanderer:  Has basic idea but not well thought through:  others summarize kernel
  4. Tangent person:  Lead into different area away from main focus or marginally related: Others summarize in way to bring back or ask question to bring back to focus.
  5. Storyteller:  Personal experience and anecdote important but if excessive distract from focus of discussion:  State don't have time
  6. Insecure talker:  Insecurity in group leads to irrelevant and tangential comments:  Make them feel home in group. Give special assignment.
  7. Lone Dissenter:  Presenter of minority or alone point of view can be problem if person stubborn, strong: Turn into strength by praising a new, unthought of viewpoint.

-  Listening skill:  When members do the following, they are are not being good listeners:

  1. compare themselves to others
  2. try to second-guess what others are saying
  3. rehearse what we wish to say
  4. judge people negatively
  5. give advice to others
  6. placate others