WHY DO WE HAVE GD (GROUP DISCUSSIONS)
Reasons for having a GD
- It helps you to understand a subject more deeply.
- It improves your ability to think critically.
- It helps in solving a particular problem.
- It helps the group to make a particular decision.
- It gives you the chance to hear other students’ ideas.
- It improves your listening skills.
- It increases your confidence in speaking.
- It can change your attitudes.
Strategies for Improving GD Skills for Tutorials & Seminars
Asking questions and joining in discussions are important skills for university study. If you find it difficult to speak or ask questions in tutorials, try the following strategies.
Attend as many seminars and tutorials as possible and notice what other students do. Ask yourself:
- How do other students make critical comments?
- How do they ask questions?
- How do they disagree with or support arguments?
- What special phrases do they use to show politeness even when they are voicing disagreement?
- How do they signal to interrupt, ask a question or make a point?
Start practicing your discussion skills in an informal setting or with a small group. Start with asking questions of fellow students. Ask them about the course material. Ask for their opinions. Ask for information or ask for help.
Take every opportunity to take part in social/informal discussions as well as more structured/formal discussion. Start by making small contributions to tutorial discussions; prepare a question to ask, or agree with another speaker’s remarks.
Discussion Etiquette (or minding your manners)
- Speak pleasantly and politely to the group.
- Respect the contribution of every speaker.
- Remember that a discussion is not an argument. Learn to disagree politely.
- Think about your contribution before you speak. How best can you answer the question/ contribute to the topic?
- Try to stick to the discussion topic. Don’t introduce irrelevant information.
- Be aware of your body language when you are speaking.
- Agree with and acknowledge what you find interesting.
- Lose your temper. A discussion is not an argument.
- Shout. Use a moderate tone and medium pitch.
- Use too many gestures when you speak. Gestures like finger pointing and table thumping can appear aggressive.
- Dominate the discussion. Confident speakers should allow quieter students a chance to contribute.
- Draw too much on personal experience or anecdote. Although some tutors encourage students to reflect on their own experience, remember not to generalize too much.
- Interrupt. Wait for a speaker to finish what they are saying before you speak.
Leading a Discussion
You may be in a seminar group that requires you to lead a group discussion, or lead a discussion after an oral presentation. You can demonstrate leadership by:
- introducing yourself and the members of the group
- stating the purpose of the discussion
- inviting quiet group members to speak
- being objective
- summarizing the discussion
Chairing a Group Discussion
When chairing a discussion group you must communicate in a positive way to assist the speakers in accomplishing their objective. There are at least four leadership skills you can use to influence other people positively and help your group achieve its purpose. These skills include:
- introducing the topic and purpose of the discussion,
- making sure all members have approximately the same time, (i.e. no one dominates the discussion by taking too much time)
- thanking group members for their contribution
- being objective in summarizing the group’s discussion and achievements.
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Sample Mock GD (Group Discussion) – I