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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

• 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

• 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 …