Thursday, February 3, 2011

Topic: Task Roles in Small-Group Discussions

Question: How can teachers prepare students for successful and productive small-group discussion?

Answer: An excerpt from my book Teaching English, How To…., Xlibris, 2004.

There are 18 roles that people can play in small-group discussions as suggested by David M. Litsey, Copyright by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with Permission. The roles are labeled “Maintenance,” “Task Roles,” and “Self-serving roles.” I have already covered the Maintenance roles. Here are the “Task” roles.

Task Roles
(1) Initiating: Proposing tasks or goals; defining a group problem; suggesting a procedure.

(2) Information or opinion seeking: Requesting facts; asking for suggestions and ideas.

(3) Information or opinion giving: Offering facts; stating a belief; giving suggestions or ideas.

(4) Clarifying or elaborating: Interpreting or reflecting ideas and suggestions; clearing up confusion; indicating alternatives before the group; giving examples.

(5) Summarizing: Pulling together related ideas; restating suggestions after the group has discussed them; offering a decision for the group to accept or reject.

(6) Consensus testing: Checking with the group to see how much agreement has been reached.

Comment: It will be worthwhile to spend time discussing these roles in supporting the group’s efforts to achieve its goals. RayS.

Next blog: Self-Serving Roles

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