These questions can help you reflect on your preparation for and facilitation of group discussions.
Preparing for Group Discussions
- Determine learners’ relevant experiences, needs, strengths, and interests?
- Identify learning goals for the group (or identify learning goals with the group)?
- Plan activities for the learners to prepare them for the discussion?
- Read and reflect on the topics planned for the session?
- Find or create appropriate resources?
- Attend any relevant lectures or other sessions that the learners attended prior to the discussion (if appropriate)?
- Identify and work on the understanding and skills I have for leading the session?
- Develop a well-structured (yet flexible) plan for the session?
Conducting the Discussion
- Create an inclusive environment in which learners feel they can take risks?
- Do an initial assessment of the learners’ levels of readiness?
- Initiate the discussion with an engaging, relevant topic or challenge?
- Use mainly open-ended questions or comments?
- Encourage active listening?
- Foster dialogue amongst the learners and help them to consider multiple points of view?
- Probe the learners’ understandings and foster higher-level thinking and discussion?
- Help the learners digest what they are hearing?
- Monitor and facilitate the flow of the session?
- As needed, help the group reach a satisfactory closure?
- Encourage learners to participate?
allow sufficient “wait-time” when learners or I ask questions?
listen actively and non-judgmentally, and encourage learners to do likewise?
use strategies for involving all the learners, including the quiet ones?
keep the discussion from being dominated by a subset of learners?
build what learners say into the discussion?
make clear that my statements are open to further discussion?
- Help learners communicate clearly?
model being patient and encourage learners to do likewise?
ask for clarification and encourage learners to do likewise?
help learners reframe their ideas and comments, when needed?
help learners focus or expand their ideas, as needed?