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Engaging in group discussions

Group work at university involves group discussions. A group discussion is a conversation about a particular topic/topics where a group of people exchange ideas to achieve a goal.

Why have group discussions at university?


• to give you deeper knowledge on a subject

• to encourage you to share ideas and insights with other students

• to hear the thoughts and ideas of other students

• to challenge and perhaps change your ideas

• to increase and clarify your knowledge

• to improve your ability to think critically

What are some elements of a group discussion?
  •  Everyone has a voice – each one in the group has a chance to speak and share ideas
  • A variety of ideas are presented – a good outcome can be reached if everyone shares their thoughts
  • Everyone listens to others and respond in a respectful way
  • Discussion is not dominated by one person
  • Group may present a variety of perspectives
  • Students feel safe to share ideas in a small group situation
  • Students know that they are working towards a common purpose
Key things to do in group discussions
  •  Introduce yourself to each other – a quick brief introduction is very helpful
  • Treat everyone with respect – speak politely to the others
  • Don’t interrupt someone when they are speaking
  • Be open to all ideas – take each one’s contribution seriously• Try to keep your comments short – respect everyone’s time
  • Listen well – stay attentive, listen with an open mind to new ideas or ideas different from yours. Effective listeners listen and actively process what others say
  • Think about your response before you speak
  • Prepare for the discussion – read the materials related to the topic for discussion, carry some notes, discussions are more successful if you prepare well
  • Participating in discussions can be difficult for some- start by agreeing with someone, then ask them to expand on their idea, ask a question which you have prepared beforehand.
Useful phrases in group discussions

 When you voice your opinion – 

• I believe that…

• I think that …

• From what I understand…

• As I understand it…

• In my opinion…

• The way I see it …

• My view is that…

• It is my view that…

• In my view…

When asking for an opinion

• What do you think?

• Do you have anything to say about this?

• What’s your idea?

• How do you feel about that?

• Do you agree?

When you give a reason

• This is due to…

• What I mean by this is…

• Because/Since…

• As a result of…

• As a consequence of …

• Due to the fact…

How to disagree effectively

Try these three steps when disagreeing with another speaker:

1. Acknowledge their thoughts/ ideas

• I take your point, but…

• I accept that but…

• I can see your point – however …

• That’s a good point, but …•

2. Then explain why you disagree

• That’s not always the case because …

• That’s not necessarily true because …

• This idea isn’t supported by statistics/ evidence …

• I thought the author meant that …

3. Offer your opinion complete with reason and support

• From what I’ve read …

• The statistics seem to indicate that …

• I think what (author’s name) may actually be suggesting is …


Phrases and expressions to enable active participation in team-based learning workshops

Advising and persuading

Why don’t you ….

I think you should ….

My advice would be to ….

I’m sure you ought to ….

Don’t you think it would be better to ….

You ought to …

You should ….

If I were you, I’d ..


I couldn’t agree more.

On the whole, I think X’s arguments are fair.

I (quite; totally) agree.

I think you’re absolutely right.

That’s a very good point.

I fully support what you say.




I’m sorry.

I apologise.

I’m sorry to say that ….

There seems to have been a mistake. I ….

I can assure you it won’t happen again.

Excuse me.

I beg your pardon.

I’m extremely sorry about ….

I hope you will excuse me if I have to ….


Asking for clarification/more information

I didn’t understand what you said about .

I’m sorry, I didn’t catch what you said about .

I’m sorry, could you repeat what you said about .

Sorry, but I’m not quite clear on .

I’d like to ask you about .

I didn’t understand the bit about the …

What does . mean?

I’m not sure what you mean.

Could we come back to that?

Could you explain that again, please?

What did you mean when you said .?

Could you be more specific about .?

Could you expand a little bit on what you said about .?

Could you give an example of .?

Could you explain in more detail.?

So you’re telling me that I can’t .?

So what you’re saying is that .?

So you mean that .?

Are you saying that .?

Am I correct in assuming that .?

Let me just make sure – your point is that .

If I have understood you correctly, your point is that .

Asking for information

Excuse me.

Could you tell me …?

Could you tell me how to …?

Would you mind telling me …?

Do you know …?

What happens if …?

Where can I …?

When can I …?

How can I …?

Something else I’d like to know is ….

Asking for opinions

What do you think about …?

What are you views on …?

What do you feel about …?

What’s your opinion of …?

What are your feelings about …?

Have you got any comments on …?

Could I have your reaction to …?

Do you have any particular views on …?

Don’t you agree, …?

I think X knows more about this than I do.

I expect X will agree with me when I say ….


Asking for permission

Can I …?

May I …?

Could I …?

Could I possibly …?

Do you mind if I …?

Would it be possible for me to …?

Would it be all right if I …?



Well . maybe . possibly .

Yes, but don’t you think .?

I can see your point, but ..

I think that’s debatable.

Perhaps, but don’t you think that ..

I see what you mean but ..

I agree to some extent, but ….

I see what you mean, but ..

But isn’t it really a question of ..

But what about .?

But surely .?

But don’t you think that .?

I take your point, but ..

It seems to me ….

I tend to think ….

I don’t think I’d say that.

I’m not so sure about that.

You may be right.

But all the evidence suggests that ..

I’m afraid I can’t agree with . on this matter.

I wouldn’t say that.

I don’t agree at all.

I can’t accept that.


Changing the subject/moving on



All right

I think we’ve finished that item.

If we can now turn to ….

Can we move on to the next point now.

I’d like now to move on to ..

Turning now to..

Moving on now to.

Having looked at ., I’d now like to consider ..

I now want to turn to ….

The next point is ..

Another interesting point is ..

The next aspect I’d like to consider is .

I’d now like to turn to ..

What do you think about X?

Checking that people are following

Is that clear?

Is everyone following?

All right?


All right so far?

Are you with me?

Do you see what I mean?


Checking that you have understood

So you’re telling me that I can’t ..

So what you’re saying is that ..

So you mean that ..

Are you saying that .?

Am I correct in assuming that .?

Let me just make sure – your point is that .

If I have understood you correctly, your point is that .


Controlling the discussion

Let’s start by looking at ….

So, I think we have agree that ….

Well, I think that covers everything.

Does anyone disagree with this?

Does anyone have any comments or questions?

So is this the same as your experience?

So, Y, what is your opinion of this?

X, what do you think?

Don’t you agree, X?

Do you agree with what X has just said?

Does anyone else have any opinions?


Dealing with difficult questions

. is important but it’s too complex for us to deal with here.

I think the aim of this task is to focus on X rather than Y

It’s too early for us to say whether ..

We don’t have enough evidence to show that ..

That’s not something I’ve had time to deal with, but ..

I’d prefer to deal with that point later.


That’s a good idea.


Why don’t you …?

Go on.

Emphasising a point

I want to stress ….

I want to highlight ….

I’d like to emphasise ….

I’d like to put emphasis on ….

It’s important to remember that ….

We should bear in mind that ….

Don’t forget that ….

The crucial point is ….

The essential point is ….

The fundamental point is ….

Furthermore, ….

What’s more, …

This supports my argument that, ….

It follows, therefore, that ….

What (in effect) we are saying is ….



That’s a good idea.

That’s a very good point.

That’s exactly what we need.

You might be right.

That’s all very well, but ….

I’m not so sure about that.

Very interesting. How exactly do you propose to ..?

I can see your point, but ….

I don’t see how you can argue that …


Exemplification – giving examples

For example, ..

For instance, ..

And as proof of that, ..

Remember .

You only have to think of ..

To illustrate my/our point ….

Following up a question

That’s not really what I was asking. My question is about ..

Perhaps I didn’t make my question clear. In fact what I asked was .

I think you’ve answered a slightly different question. What I would like to know is .

I understand that but what I actually had in mind was .

Sorry, I’m still not clear about .


Giving opinions.

I definitely think that….

I’m sure that….

I’m convinced that….

I really do think that….

I’m of the opinion that …

As I see it, ….

I think ….

I consider ….

I feel ….

Personally, I believe …

In my opinion/view, ….

It seems to me ….

I’m inclined to think that …

I tend to think that ….

Interrupting politely

May I …?

Could I possibly …?

Do you mind if I …?

Would it be possible for me to …?

I’m sorry to bother you, but …

Would it be all right if I …?

If I could just come in here.

Sorry to interrupt, but .

I’d just like to say that …



In other words,
Or rather,
That is to say,
To put it another way,
If we put that another way,
I mean
By which I mean
Or you could say
The point I’m making is
That is to say,
That is,
That means


What I

‘m suggesting
‘m trying to say
meant to say
should have said


Let me put it another way


Speeding up things

Can we move on to the next point, please.

We need to move on quickly, now.

The next point is .

Sorry, that’s all we have time for.

Group Discussions Quiz