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Discussion takes place whenever there is a difference of opinion concerning the situation. It involves an interchange of questions and ideas among the participants. The purpose of discussion is to encourage exchange of ideas and viewpoints even though it may not lead to any decision or solution to the problem.
Hall and Paolucci (1968) have noted that various research studies comparing the effectiveness of discussion procedures and lectures have found discussions to be approximately as effective as lectures when the- acquisition of information was measured immediately after the experimental periods. Measurements at a later time indicate that
discussion methods may be superior to lectures or reading for
the retention of information. Discussion methods have been found to be superior also in contributing to the application of the material learned and in building attitudes that are important in shaping behaviour patterns.
Values of Discussion
1. It develops in students the ability to discuss.
2. It increases self-confidence of students.
3. It brings out all the different points of view of students to solve a problem.
4. It brings out past experiences and known facts which have bearing on the question being discussed.
5. It inspires individuals to act to improve their own situations. For example, as a result of discussion of the effects of immunisation against disease, including presentation of facts and the relating of experiences, individuals may be led to immunise themselves and members of their families.
6. It may lead groups to work out plans of action. For example, a discussion of the benefits to be gained through income generating activities for women may lead women to take up such activities.
Types of Discussion
There are various types of discussion methods which can be used for teaching. They are:
1. Class discussion
2. Panel discussion
Amongst these, informal class discussion is the most widely used method for classroom teaching.
1. Class Discussion
Class discussion can be on a general topic such as the need for Home Science education or it can be on a specific topic such as 'vocations in Home Science'.
The effectiveness of the class discussion is related to the age levels and abilities of the students, the class size, the subject matter to be covered, and the experience and skill of the teacher in conducting the discussion.
2. Panel discussion
Panel discussion is also known as round table discussion.
It consists of a panel of three to six persons who express their opinions on a given problem. The panel clarifies the problem before each member reacts to it by taking over the discussion on each point easily and freely so that the discussion becomes lively. In a class room, when a panel is made of students, a teacher or student can perform the role of moderator. He has to successfully elicit the participation of each panel member.
The advantage of panel discussion is that it provides an experience to the students to think quickly and independently and express themselves.
Sometimes this type of discussion leads to poor organisation as the panel may not reach any solution due to the varied opinions expressed by the members.
In this method, several speakers present their viewpoints on a given subject. The aim is not interaction amongst the speakers but only the expression of viewpoints. Thus, it provides the presentation of various ideas or practices in a short period of time. Moreover, it provides students an experience in public speaking. The presentations can be followed by class discussion on the same topic.
This method consists of two groups, one of experts or specialists or resource persons, and the other of students. The students' group raises the questions on interesting and relevant topics and seeks answers from the panel.
This kind of discussion may provide students with information, which may not be available otherwise. The teacher or a student can be the moderator. The main problem in using this method is that competent persons are difficult to find.
The process of discussion involves three major steps:
1. Recognizing the problem. The group should agree upon the problem to be solved.
2. Thinking of possible solutions. Once a problem is recognised, the members of a discussion group can express opinions as to the ways in which each thinks the problem can be solved.
Agreeing upon a satisfactory solution. This may be a solution for an entire group in which plans of action can be worked out. Regardless of the result of the discussion, it will be profitable because each individual will have the opportunity of contributing something to the solution of the problem.
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