Inclusivity as a basis for group discussions.

In conversation with: Christopher Barnatt, Chris Ennew, Ting Lu (School of Law), Kingsley Udeh (School of Law), Peter Yeandle (School of History). Produced: November 2009; Duration: 4 minutes : 26 seconds.

Kingsley Udeh:
Interaction in the class or the seminar is very important. No. 1 is that it ventilate your doubt about certain areas, you say your ideas, in fact sometimes you think an idea is correct, but when you say it during discussion you discover that it's not right or that it's not fully right and with that contribution it's sort of ventilation of ideas and, of course, it builds confidence when you contribute and also it binds you with the people that are participating in the seminar, that's your classmates, because sometimes you begin to argue, you say this is what it should be, they say this is what it should be so that this friendliness that it brings, interaction

Chris Ennew:
The interesting challenge, I think, has always been around getting everybody to engage equally. MBAs tend to be quite interactive, a lot of case study work, a lot of discussion, a lot of debate, a lot of wanting to learn from experiences of individuals, rather than necessarily from textbooks.

Chris Barnatt:
I think it is all about working on what will the trigger be to start the debate off? I don't think anywhere in higher education now we can simply say well please discuss this and it will happen by magic because unfortunately it just doesn't and therefore you're trying to think about well what's...different type of people you've got in the group, where are they from, what perspectives will they have, how can I build on that.

Ting Lu:
British seminar, Professor will expect you to provide your own opinions more than Chinese seminars cos in Chinese seminars we just, most of time we spend is to listen to those Professors, listen to what they talk and their opinions, but here you have to offer your own opinions. Professor will not give his own ideas to you, he just expect you to contribute to the seminar. Like our seminar usually begins like this "so, you have read the case, what do you think about it?" This is always the beginning of our seminars and yeh and people have to say what they have read and what they thought about the case and yeh what they learnt from the others.

Peter Yeandle:
The home students could be off on a debate, the Arab/Israeli conflict rights and wrongs, was Gorbachev personally to blame for the collapse of the Soviet system. And they're off on one, and they're bantering backwards and forwards. They're having a really good intense, in depth discussing about the topic and I can see the Chinese students have got something to say but they're not quick enough. It requires time for them to translate what they're hearing then translate what they're thinking into English and by the time they're there, the debate's moved on. And it's taken me a while to be sensitive to that and be able to say, "Hang on, let's see what Thomas or Grace or Richard has to say about this."

Peter Yeandle:
I think the few Chinese were a bit conscious of the fact then that all eyes are on them so they had to say something quite significant. It's a matter of confidence and after a month, may be six weeks, when they've experience seminars and experienced group work as preparation as well as in the seminar they're a bit more confident with their peer group. And the English students are more confident with them and looking to build in their ideas. It took a while to get going.

Peter Yeandle:
by the end the Chinese students were more involved in seminar discussions than some of the home students and people were really interested in hearing their views as well. It was ideal in a way, in fact if that could have been a starting point I sometimes wonder how much better it could have been at the end.

Short paper

Discussion as a teaching technique discusses the possibility of making use of group talk (conversation, discussion and dialogue) as a useful teaching tool and one which may be used to develop critical thinking skills. Two adult learning specialists Brookfield and Preskill (1999)i, focus on discussion to explore the role of group talk in teaching contexts. In their view, discussion incorporates "reciprocity and movement, exchange and inquiry, cooperation and collaboration, formality and informality" (1999:5). The paper looks at how discussion can be turned into "critical" discussion.
... more from Discussion as a teaching technique.

More scholarly interpretations of the theoretical basis:

... all Internationalisation short papers

Teaching at Nottingham website resource Teaching difference and exclusion: audiences, assumptions ... "Academics working across the social sciences and humanities are often faced with the …"   (Jan 2006)

Teaching at Nottingham website resource Bridging the gap? Evaluation of a pre-sessional course. "First-year undergraduate students have very diverse academic backgrounds, and this …"   (Jan 2005)

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Dr Rachel Scudamore

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