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Purposes of small group discussions

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Title: Purposes of small group discussions


1
  • Purposes of small group discussions

2
Research findings Breaking the mould?
  • An early study of AS Science for Public
    Understanding. Key findings
  • Missed opportunities for exploring ideas
    about science
  • Many lessons seen to be teacher-led
  • Few examples of discussion between students
    observed.

3
Research findings Valuable lessons
  • A study by Ralph Levinson of the discussion of
    issues related to biosciences
  • Humanities teachers comfortable with
    discussion but not too concerned about the
    accuracy of the science.
  • Science teachers very concerned to get across
    the science and uneasy about discussion.

4
Discussion in small groups Making a start
  • Establish the ground rules
  • Choose a topic that students can relate to
  • Provide a structure (with clear roles where
    appropriate)
  • Define the outcomes
  • Set a (short) time limit
  • Minimal teacher interventions procedural, not
    judgemental

5
Some established discussion techniques
Snowballs Discuss topic in pairs, then fours,
then eights working towards consensus Jigsaws I
ndividuals work as experts on a section of a
topic and then re-group. Needs advanced planning
but does ensure participation of all. Rainbow
groups Students each given a different colour,
say in a group of 4 they discuss in groups of
same colour, then original groups reassemble.
6
Purpose 1 language
  • Developing the language needed to analyse and
    develop arguments
  • e.g module B1 You and your genes Activity AB1.22
    Gene therapy in the news

7
Purpose 2 clarifying knowledge and understanding
  • Discussing true/false statements
  • e.g module P2 Radiation life Activity AP2.29
    Global warming challenge

8
Purpose 3 data explanations
  • Discussing possible evidence for claims
  • e.g module P1 Earth in the Universe Activity
    AP1.23 What killed off the dinosaurs (based on a
    video) or
  • GCSE Science F tier textbook, questions about
    continental drift on page 62 (refer to pages
    60-63)
  • Making sense of evidence
  • e.g module B3 Life on Earth Activity AB3.7 Life
    on Mars

9
Purpose 4 exploring issues
  • Issues with an ethical dimension
  • e.g module B1 You and your genes Activity
    AB1.21 Embryo selection what should be
    allowed?
  • Issues with a technical and economic dimension
  • e.g module C2 Material choices
  • Activity C2.16 Can it be done? Should it be done?
  • Gaining insight into other viewpoints

10
Purpose 5 making decisions
  • Developing policy arguments based on
    information and evidence
  • e.g module B2 Keeping healthy Activity AB2.11 Is
    it worth it?
  • See module P3 Radioactive materials Activity
    AP3.28 What was said?

11
Student dispositions
  • Understand, appreciate or be moved by range of
    opinions other than ones own
  • Accept criticism
  • Reasonableness
  • Responsiveness
  • Respect for the members of the group
  • Freedom to offer sincerely-held opinions
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