Have you ever been in a group discussion where one or two people dominated the conversation? How about a time when you wanted to share an idea, but were immediately interrupted? Ever witness someone saying something insensitive or innappropriate and not sure how to intervene? What about a time when the group discussion digressed so much that little was accomplished from the intended goal?
Most of us have had the above experiences, and for students these can be frequent experiences in classes that include group discussion and group work. At the same time, group collaboration and discussion skills are important skills for students (and instructors) to develop.
The strategy of setting ground rules for group discussion can be an effective technique for promoting an inclusive climate. Students may create their own grown rules or instructors may wish to provide them. Once developed and communicated, ground rules can be revisited at any time.
Sample ground rules:
- Allow the speaker to complete their thought before making a comment (avoid interrupting).
- Do not engage in texting or side conversations during group discussion.
- Provide opportunities for individuals who have not yet spoken to offer their thoughts.
View additional examples from the Center for Reasearch on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan
Setting Classroom Agreements: A Guide by UCLA’s Intergroup Dialogue Program and The Center for the Advancement of Teaching
Setting class norms about behavior during group activities Carl Wieman, May 2017