Teaching

15 Small Group Discussions

Jennifer Smith

Small group discussions can be a good way for students to grapple with challenging concepts in a meaningful way. This teaching strategy can be adapted to fit a variety of topics, class sizes, and levels. In addition, small group discussions provide:

  • A compliment to lecture
  • Peer to peer connection
  • Oral communication practice
  • Preparation for collaborative activities

Small group discussion can be effective in synchronous online sessions by using the breakout room feature of Zoom. You can pre-assign students to breakout rooms using a CSV file. Details on how to do this can be found in the Zoom chapter of this guide.

Discussion Compliments Lecture

It can be helpful to break up a lecture (whether synchronous online or face-to-face) with small group discussions to help reinforce a concept or identify areas of confusion. You can model a thought process or methodology in your presentation and then pair students up to work through the steps. Use discussion – lecture combinations to:

  • Guide students to question their assumptions
  • Identify themes or similarities with previous material
  • Zero in on points of disagreement

License

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UF Instructor Guide by Jennifer Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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