Creative Discussion using Plain Pair Groups

Creative Discussion – a key to insight and change


William Plain
Emeritus Professor, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Plain Pair Group Teaching (Plain PGT)
- for universities and schools
Plain Pair Group Discussion (Plain PGD)
- for decision making and staff development
- for informal or community creative discussion

A flash of insight is the spark of cosmic intelligence.
Small group sharing of insight can change the pattern of human intelligence.

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Group or individual report

As presentations start waning, the students can be asked to produce some form of written synthesis of their activity in order to demonstrate their understanding and appreciation of the class material. This can include joining the one-sentence summaries produced by each member during the preparation phase and then adding a final one-sentence summary of the whole text; or it may lead to making a poster, preparing a written summary, or noting questions to ask the teacher.

If the work being done is more project-based, or implies doing something other than simply working on a text, a ‘secretary’ may write an outline of what is being discussed by others in the group. Many variations are possible, and they will depend on the material, the teacher, and the reaction of the class at the time.

Especially with classes dealing with ideas, where there is some scope for personalising one’s understanding of the content matter, it can be useful to extend the effective learning period of the class through the preparation of a class report. This enables the student to do further research on the area in the library or through the Internet, thus organising his ideas and establishing a personal position in relation to the issues being discussed. He can study the subject in more depth and develop a real sense of individual contribution, rather than simply absorbing what the teacher has said.

Techniques used by the students in preparing the presentation in pairs or small groups and presenting the text in their groups, as well as studying at home, can be suggested by the students themselves. The class can be asked to note over several classes all the methods they use. Each group then puts together the ideas from each member of the group and then a group report can be given to the teacher who collates this information and hands it back to the class as a guide for future use.

As a final step in each lesson, the text or lecture notes for the following class will be handed out and divided into sections enabling each student to prepare the material at home.

At the following lesson, after the introductory activity, students can pass their reports around the group, read, perhaps write a comment on each report, and then discuss the topic in more depth. Another very successful idea is to ask that reports be written from initial outline notes, and then, instead of reading each other’s reports, each person presents an oral summary of their report based on their outline notes. Ideally, reports could be posted to an intranet bulletin board and read before the class.

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© William Plain  1990-2018 (print) 2005 - 2018 (website)