Improving Student Group Work & Discussion

Discussion, group working and interactive teaching are highly effective ways to develop deep learning and understanding. They also support the concept of the differentiated classroom and can be highly effective in meeting the needs and wants, of different learners.

Well-structured group working and discussion also supports the development of soft skills and helps students in areas such as confidence building, listening, speech, cognitive, and analytical skills.

To optimise the learning and development benefits on offer it is imperative that group working and discussion actives arethought through carefully, planned and structured. It is important to keep students engaged and focussed through out but this requires considerably thought and planning from the teacher or tutor.

This one-day workshop providesa highly practical hands on way to explore and understand better, the techniques and approaches that help students to get the maximum learning from group working and discussion. It also addresses the often-quoted barriers and obstacles that need to be overcome.

It demonstrates simple but highly effective approaches to group working. It enables the participants to review their own use of group work and provides a raft of ideas and suggestions on ways to facilitate more effective student group working and discussion. In doing so it helps them understand better how to improve student learning and progression.

For Whom

This fast-paced, highly practical workshop is designed for all those who have to work with groups of children and adults. It is for Teachers and Trainers from Academies, Secondary Schools, FE Colleges, Local Authorities and Independent Learning Providers.

The workshop will also be of interest to those working in HE and or commercial training departments or even operational managers who need to stimulate more effective discussion within their teams as well as managers and lesson observers who are responsible for and/or involved in developing the quality of teaching and learning within their organisational environment.

Workshop Aims and Objectives

Understand better the benefits of effective group work and discussion
Explore the advantages and disadvantages of group work and discussion
Review a variety of different approaches and techniques for group work and discussion
To consider the obstacles and barriers to implementation and how these can be overcome
To demonstrate ways to plan, include and facilitate effective group working & discussion


1. Current Practice and Understanding

Session one explores participants understanding of why group work and discussion are fundamental in supporting effective learning, the approaches currently used, how where and when they have proved effective.

  • Why Group Work & Discussion?
  • Reviewing current approaches to inform development opportunities
  • Successes
  • Failures
  • How effective is my use of group work and discussion?
  • Development Opportunities

2. Approaches to Group Work and Discussion,Reviewing Activities

This session focuses on reviewing a range of approaches to group work & discussion; including how good are they in engaging students, and when they will “work best for me”?

  • Evaluation of a range group work activities
  • Which activity for which group of students
  • Reflecting on strengths and weaknesses of different group work and discussion approaches

3. Developing group work and discussion activities that REALLY work

Session three focuses on the development of group work activities that will support the need to differentiate and enable better working with and between students.

  • What will work for me?
  • Building approaches and techniques to use with students
  • Planning for success – using the group work planning template
  • The key steps in effective planning and delivery of a group work activity
  • Developing and designing activities that differentiate
  • Planning and developing a group work discussion activity
    • sharing ideas on difficult to teach topics
    • the development of an inspirational group work and/or discussion activity
    • incorporating a variety of pedagogical and differentiated approaches
  • Developing the session – through guided support

4.Developing a personalised group work and/or discussion activity

This session provides the opportunity for participants to put the days learning into practice by encouraging them to reflect on all the day’s learning activities and then develop a new group or discussion activity that they can take back to their students. The goal is to develop an approach that delivers a group work or discussion activity that is engaging, differentiated and meets the needs of the individual participants’ students. It is expected that participants will be focusing on developing and devising a group work activity that:

  • Has differentiated aims and objectives
  • Uses a range of questioning and assessment activities
  • Develops skills, knowledge, understanding
  • Assesses and promotes learning
  • Meets all students needs
  • Supports student reflection
  • Creates stretch, has pace and is challenging for students

5.Plenary, questions and answers

The final session provides a review of the key learning points and provides an additional opportunity for participants to ask about any issues that are still outstanding.