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Exercise 11 Learning from discussions

Participating in discussion groups

Do you think yourself a ‘talker’ or a ‘listener’?

I actually think myself a bit of both. I can be quite chatty, particularly with and around people I’m familiar and comfortable with. Also when someone needs to talk, I’m always ready to listen. On the other hand, I’m also quite shy which can be taken as listening, but if I’m uncomfortable, I don’t do a lot of talking or listening. I just look around for an exit!

Which people or situations encourage you to talk?

My family and very close friends. They would tell you that I never shut up! When I’m with someone I feel comfortable with, we can chat for hours.

To whom do you talk in your daily life – about the weather, about personal matters or current issues?

I talk to my husband and kids. I can talk to my husband about anything; he is my best friend. I like to talk with my children because I believe this teaches them good communication skills.

Do you find that many of your conversations are about other people, yourself, sex, ideas, events, technology, religion or politics?

Absolutely. My husband and I talk about everything under the sun. We talk about sports, what is going on around the world today, religion, our children, sex, my studies… the list is endless. I rather talk about concepts and ideas than about people. We look down on gossiping. You don’t learn from that.

To whom do you particularly enjoy listening?

At the moment, I love listening to my children. The things that they come up with on their own entertain me no end. It’s funny that I can understand everything they say, but other family members have difficulty and I can also tell who is speaking out of my two eldest children, while everyone cannot.

Do you think that you learn more from talking with people, from listening, reading, writing or watching TV?

I believe I learn in a variety of ways, three of which are reading, writing and talking about what I am learning about. I think that the information sticks better if I read it out loud or discuss it. And also if I put it in my own words on paper or in this instance, my learning blog I have a record of what I am learning and I can go back to access that any time. TV, for me, is mainly for entertainment and unless it is something interesting, then I don’t recall what I was watching.

Do you chat to others by writing letters or emails?

I was a huge letter writer in my younger years. I had two pen pals I regularly communicated with; however, with the changing face of technology, I’ve used every possible means to keep in touch with everyone and anyone. My preferred method is Facebook, either a private message or a public one seen of New Feed or an email.

Learning from discussions

1.         The role of discussions groups in learning

Identify a group discussion in which you learned something important.

I recall studying Engaging the Media in study period two of 2011 and having a discussion with my group. There were four women and one man, and it was decidedly lop-sided. We were discussing the merits of romantic comedies, and we women were taking over the conversation to the point where we were almost, in my opinion obnoxious. The poor guy, who disagreed with us, was not getting his point across and had left the group. I knew he was frustrated that he did not get a word in edge wise.

  • What did you learn in this discussion?

I learned that it does not matter what gender you are, when there are more of you in a group situation, the pack mentality exists and simple teasing can quickly escalate to bullying. I also learned that I did not like the feeling I got when the guy left our group.

  • What did you do during this discussion? How did you behave? How could you change your behaviour to improve this discussion?

As a group we were supposed to be discussing different genres of films, but we started trying to impose our opinions about romantic comedies to a guy who clearly did not like them. I teased him along with the other women and I feel that if only I had stopped and focused on the agenda, we could still have had a lively discussion without having been derogatory in our attitudes. Perhaps we all could have learned something new that day, but failed due to our behaviour.

Consider the importance of formal discussions in your learning by answering the following questions

Is your learning in tutorials or online discussions:

–                  meaningful

–                  relevant to your units of study

–                  interesting?

Why or why not?

I believe that taking part in tutorials and online discussions enhances my learning experience because I get the chance to actually hear what I am reading about and discuss with the tutor and the other students any items that I may be struggling with. This is meaningful to me because it helps me learn better. It is relevant to my units because I understand every unit has forum, some which my involvement is mandatory. Discussing what I am learning about so that I can understand better the unit is interesting and satisfying. I enjoy taking part in discussions.

2.         Participation in tutorials

*          Is your role in formal groups (tutorials and seminars) different from your role in informal groups? Compare the way you discuss something with your friends with the way you discuss something in a tutorial. What are the differences and similarities?

I find that for the most part tutorials and seminars are more formal and I am inclined to use better language, rather than colloquial language. I also avoid contracting my words. When discussing ideas with my friends I do not feel the need to do this and am rather laid backing my manner of speaking. Of course when it comes to family we do not wait for each other to finish speaking when we begin with our opinions. We talk of many things, argue, stop talking, sulk and then forgive each other and continue as if nothing happened.

*          List some of the different ways to participate in discussion groups.

I like to listen for a while in a discussion group to get a feel for people and understand where they are coming from. Then if I have something to say, whether to agree or disagree, I speak up. Other ways to participate are to make sure I come in prepared with my notes; while also taking notes on what is being discussed. I have learned to keep to the topic at hand and if I don’t understand to ask questions and then repeat the information to make sure I have it correct. Listening to other talk is important as I would like to be listened to if I were talking.

*          What role do you play in tutorials? What do you do during discussions? How do you behave?

Even though I can be quite shy in a room full of people I’m not familiar with, in order for me to succeed I need to let go of my inhibitions, which is why I’m happy taking part in online discussions. My role is to listen first, then give my opinion or seek clarification. In my previous units I have taken notes, answered questions, looked up information in text books and above all listened to fellow students. I have been semi formal in my manner, with only a small amount of levity to make the session fun.

*          Make a list of positive and negative behaviours of participants in tutorials or seminars.

Positive behaviour includes being a good listener; making eye contact; asking and answering questions; taking notes; having a good sense of humour and being pleasant to everyone, even if one does not agree with the opinion of others.

Negative behaviour includes not being a good listener; interrupting when some speaks or disagrees with one’s opinion; keeping to them selves; not prepared and arrives early or late and leaves early or late. Someone who is disruptive and unpleasant.

3.         Reflection on enhancing learning in discussions

Describe any changes you (and others) need to make to enhance your won (and other’s) learning in tutorials. If you are in a discussion (face-to-face or online) that isn’t effective, explain what could be done to improve it.

I believe that in order to enhance the experience of a tutorial all students, including myself, should came prepared with notes and take notes during the session. We should have done all the readings and bring with us questions about what we have read, whether it is something we are confused about or simply what other’s opinion are on the topic.

Going in to a tutorial students should be willing to listen to other’s opinion and learn from them. They must be willing, also to speak up and be pleasant to others, display good manners and a good sense of humour.

If I am having a difficult discussion, I should try to see it from a different point of view. Perhaps gather some more information or ask the tutor for advice. Getting angry is not the way, so to improve the situation, we should ask ourselves how we differ and why, then try to work the problem out and moving forward with the discussion. Perhaps cooling off and then coming back to it with a clearer head could also work. Remember to always be mindful of the other party and their opinions and not be derogative in anyway. Do not make the discussion personal. And lastly if all else fails, then perhaps conclude the discussion and agree to disagree.

Reflective comment

I learned a lot about discussion groups and how to behave in them this week, even though I have not participated as such in this unit. I have taken my examples from previous units, particularly from my media studies in 2011. Looking back on that particular group, I may not have learned something in regards to the movies we were discussing; but I learned something about myself in that I do not like to belittle other people’s opinions just because they are different from my own. I felt terrible about the guy and could feel his frustration as he left our group. I am certain the other ladies did too afterward and we did apologise.

Having the material in this unit focus on the negative and positive behaviour of participating in a group discussion made me aware that I am on the right track and demanding good manners is not a bad thing. I have always felt that being pleasant and having a good sense of humour goes a long way towards a good study session.

What I want to change personally is the use on contraction words. I have carefully reread everything I have written and corrected my self. I do tend to contract a lot of my words. It is something I want to focus on so that it becomes more natural as I head towards effective essay writing. Due to a lot of the discussions being online, I think that I will get a lot of practice in writing correctly. On the other hand, I don’t think it should be too much of a problem when I am discussing ideas on the student forums, and I do want to be myself and project my persona as honestly as possible.

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Posted by on 12/07/2012 in SSK12

 

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