Leading Discussion Groups


Identify goals and ground rules

Review class materials, noting difficult issues or potential problems

Prepare a variety of questions

Plan various strategies for teaching

  • warm-ups
  • small group work


Explain ground rules and expectations

Generate discussion by

  • asking questions
  • having students ask questions
  • having students assigned to introduce material
  • breaking into pairs or groups

Vary the kinds of questions you ask

  • Exploratory questions
  • Relational questions
  • Cause and effect questions
  • Diagnostic questions
  • Action questions
  • Hypothetical questions

Listen carefully and provide paraphrases and positive feedback

Keep discussion focused/return to key issues

Encourage students to participate: call on students/assign roles

Keep dominating students under control

Ask for students’ questions

Give students time to think

Limit your desire to lecture

Help students evaluate what’s been accomplished

Provide closure through summary or handout

Prepare students for next class session


Reflect on class discussion

Determine responses to problem areas/confusions

Identify links, if any, to next class topic