Group Discussion (GD) is an essential feature of the teaching-learning approach adapted in a classroom today. Contemporary teaching emphasizes a learner-centric approach rather than a teacher-centric one, which was a common practice in the earlier days. Practices like Flip learning, GD, PowerPoint Presentations, and Smart Classrooms are all aimed to hold the interest of a student while the teacher is delivering the lecture. The GD method has numerous benefits as it encourages and motivates a student to come up with ideas, participate in a group, express an opinion, and solve a problem by discussion with peers. It creates a vibrant classroom atmosphere, inculcates a positive feeling among students and helps them overcome their inhibitions and participate in a team.
Importance of Group Discussion (GD)
The conventional teaching-learning system had a more teacher-centric approach where the students were mere listeners, and concept-building on a topic or a subject depended upon the merit and grasping capacity of a student. As a result, knowledge was imparted unevenly among students, and the teacher could not judge how much the students understood. But now, scientific teaching methodologies for classrooms like group discussions have become popular. Students are now more actively involved in the teaching-learning process. They are not mere listeners but also performers. In this process, students have to be actively involved, share their viewpoints, discuss and debate, participate in quizzes and also explain and clear the doubts of classmates. In doing so, their own concepts become clear, and they can dive deep into the subject.
This is beneficial for both the teacher and the student. Through Group Discussions (GDs) in a classroom, the teacher gets an idea about the level of understanding of a particular topic amongst students. Not only this, the teacher gets a fair idea about the concepts developed on the topic when the students go through discussions and deliberations. Often through group discussions, the teacher gets the opportunity to clarify certain points which they may have missed during the lecture. Therefore, this benefits both the teacher and the student, and in the process, raises the academic standards in terms of learning the subject as a whole.
Group Discussion (GD) in the Classroom: The Process
For a 45-minute class, the first 30 minutes are usually dedicated to lecturing and imparting knowledge of a particular topic. The last 15 minutes are typically dedicated to a GD session when the class is divided into small groups of 4-5 depending on the class size. Often the teacher initiates the group discussion through quizzes and questions on the topic. The groups are then invited to answer the questions, explain them and clarify any doubts raised by some other groups on the answers. Such discussions are shown to have a positive impact on the class as a whole.
Not only as a part of teaching and learning, group discussions can be used as an assessment tool especially for internal assessments and classroom evaluations.
Advantages of Group Discussion (GD) in the Classroom
1. Enhancement of thinking capabilities
When the teacher asks questions and initiates discussions on a topic, students think out of the box and explore new ideas, increasing their cognitive skills. This type of pedagogy breaks the monotony of one-sided lectures and makes the class vibrant and interesting.
2. Knowledge enhancement
As students actively participate in the sessions, they are aware of the topic and come to class well prepared. Through discussions, small details are also pointed which might otherwise get missed. This is especially true for subjects that require complex problem solving and are difficult to deal with for both the teacher and the student. Students tend to lose interest once they fail to understand the complexity and rationale behind the problem. Group discussions (GDs) help in a major way to get rid of such complexity and difficulties in problem solving. It encourages active participation, exchange of ideas and boosts confidence of students when they are able to provide the solutions by themselves. Thus it improves their analytical thinking and problem solving skills to a great extent.
3. Skill development
Group Discussion (GD) in a classroom helps a student understand a subject layer by layer, thus making the concept clearer and more transparent. This enables a student to think critically with a solid base. Also, contributing as a team increases his/her soft skill and English-speaking ability. It also helps him/her overcome inhibitions, if any. In the process, students learn to participate as a team and put forward their views in a democratic manner. Students learn to become good listeners and respond accordingly in an appropriate manner.
Examples of some Key Group Discussion Topics in Classroom
Why is Earth losing its greenery?
Teamwork vs Individual Work
Plastic Ban: Economy vs Environment
Impact of News Channels on Society
The topics can be altered according to the syllabus and the grade that the students are in.
In order to make Group Discussion(GD) a success in the classroom, teachers must set a goal for each GD session, and incentives should also be awarded at the end of each session. This will motivate a student to come well prepared to the class and participate actively. The students must be engaged throughout the session with quizzes, debates, and discussions to make the session interesting and productive. Audiovisual techniques may be used as and when required.
To prepare the ideal format for GD, the teacher should prepare the right strategy before the start of the session. Such as, if the teacher plans to write the questions for a group discussion on the board, the students must sit at a position from where the board is clearly visible. During the ongoing session, the teacher must position himself/herself near each group and participate in discussions with the students. The teacher must guide them through the entire session and involve every student. New questions from time to time will keep up the momentum and move the discussion on the right track.
Finally, at the end of the Group Discussion (GD) session, the teacher should ask the students to provide feedback and summarize the key points of the session.
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