In part one of this series, we shared tips on how the leader of a small group discussion may introduce the session to members, in order to set the discussion tone and to ensure everyone is contributing in the discussion. In this second part, we’ll share tips on improving the class discussion, as well as how a facilitator may wrap-up the group session:
The facilitator may invite discussion by choosing volunteers, but to overcome members who dominate the discussion, as well as to encourage shy group members to speak, a more structured discussion will enable better participation. Some tips for a structured discussion:
- The facilitator can ask each member to provide their comments. This would ensure everyone speaks up in a small group. In a large group this can be too time-consuming.
- Encourage the group to speak to each other. You could break up the group in pairs, who interview each other, and later present what they learned about their partner. This can be used as an introductory exercise as well.
- Hands-on exercises can be carried out in smaller groups. They must be exercises where everyone can contribute.
- Resolve any conflicts with group mediation. Serious conflicts with any individual should be handled away from the group.
A facilitator is responsible for keeping the discussion on track from beginning to end of the discussion. A teacher can play the facilitator’s role in a class discussion. However, to keep the group members more attentive, the facilitator may also assign duties to some group members, such as a recorder (writes what is discussed), an organizer (ensures the group stays on task), and a materials person (if the discussion requires materials). Other specialized roles may also be deputed depending on the tasks.
The facilitator needs to wrap up the discussion by highlighting any positive aspects or outcomes of the discussion. Follow-up activities may also be assigned to members. The facilitator can find out if the group enjoyed the discussion and suggest they make personal notes of anything learned during the process. Towards the end, the facilitator may also take feedback from the group, either spoken or written, that reflects on the discussion as a whole and find out what they gained, how they know this and what could be improved upon.