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Strategies for improving the quality and effectiveness of review discussions.
When free-flowing and lively discussions about shared experiences happen they often have a life of their own and need little or no extra facilitation.
If you sometimes find yourself in unrewarding discussions that do not fit this description, then some of the interventions or gimmicks described here (and used sparingly!) can help to create a climate in which lively and worthwhile discussions are more likely to happen.
Most of the reviewing methods described throughout this 'Guide to Active Reviewing' can be used to stimulate, focus or complement group discussion.
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Ask the group to make three separate lists of what they have found PLUS, MINUS and INTERESTING about the review discussions so far. Ask:
Also ask each person to come up with two ACTION POINTS which will help them to both GIVE AND GET more in future discussions. If individuals are stuck for ideas, ask the group to make suggestions.
If the idea is being promoted that reviewer and participants share responsibility for the quality of discussions, then it is logical for the reviewer to end up with two action points for herself.
REVISING GROUND RULESA few basic 'Ground Rules', negotiated with the group, and expressed in positive statements, can help to generate a climate for good review discussions.
The rules are created by reviewing the initial experiences of the group.
For example, ask learners
to use these sentence beginnings in paired interviews, and then
discuss responses as a whole group:
Avoid creating too many rules - especially if the resulting list is likely to stifle, distort or divert discussion. If you end up with a list that seems too long, then ask the group to select the top 3 'rules', and demote the rest to 'proposals' , 'expectations' or 'intentions'.
MIXING THE GROUPExperiment with reviewing in different sized groups. This helps to change patterns of relationships within a group. Some people prefer the relative intimacy of reviewing in pairs or sub-groups; others prefer larger groups - so it pays to change group sizes frequently. It is also important to keep changing pairings or sub-groups, so that everyone gets to work with everyone else, and so that cliques do not develop.
Unlikely Pairs: If people are being asked to work with partners they don't get on with very well, it is particularly important to provide them with a reviewing task which they are likely to achieve and enjoy. Ask everyone to report back to the whole group on how they got on with each other. If the answer is at least as good as "better than expected", then this strategy is working!
VARYING REVIEWING METHODS
PREPARATION BY LEARNERSBefore the activity, ask the group to list potential review topics, and ask each individual (or pair) to take responsibility for leading a topic during the review.
When all have decided on a topic give them time to prepare. The reviewer is available for advice during preparation, but is involved as little as possible during the review itself.
People will often respond well when their friends or peers are leading the review. This is even more the case when everyone knows that they themselves will have a turn at leading a review topic.
Leading a review topic can be a greater responsibility or challenge than the activity being reviewed - so ensure that everyone receives feedback on how they conducted their part of the review. The feedback may come from the group or the reviewer or both.
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pages at reviewing.co.uk:
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|links to other websites:||Discussing the undiscussable A workbook for improving group effectiveness and openness Bob Dick and Tim Dalmau|