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In many professions, the ability to communicate verbally, with well thought out, evidenced arguments is key to success.
Assessed discussions can develop skills that you are likely to use in many professional or vocational contexts. By interacting with others you can increase knowledge and understanding of the discussion topic for yourself and the other people involved.
What is an assessed discussion?
An assessed discussion is a structured and formal conversation or debate where students are expected to participate actively and engage in critical thinking.
The discussion is typically evaluated by the instructor, and the students' performance is graded based on their contribution to the conversation, their ability to present and defend their arguments, and their overall comprehension of the subject matter.
The goal of an assessed discussion is to encourage students to think critically, communicate effectively, and actively engage with the course material.
Assessed discussions can take various forms, including small-group discussions, debates, and online forums. This page focuses on face-to-face discussions. A page on online discussions is coming soon!
Using evidence to inform your discussion
An assessed discussion is more than just a chat, you will need to discuss relevant material. This could include:
Research. Journal articles that are relevant to the given topic.
Cases. Examples from real cases. Your discussion may be about a specific case, but you can include information from others too. Remember to mention sources.
Your own professional experience. If you have worked, are currently working in a relevant field, or have experience from placements, you can bring this into the discussion too. Keep your examples brief and to the point though - it can be tempting to spend a lot of time talking about yourself!
Preparing and working in groups
Many assessed discussion assignments require you to work in groups - both to prepare for the discussion and during the discussion.
Preparing as a group
The main way to work as a group when preparing, is to divide up research tasks and then feedback the main findings to the group. This could involve producing:
- short summaries of key papers or documents,
- a list of take-away bullet points with sources indicated,
- a diagram that shows connections between sources etc.
If you have any pertinent personal experiences that can inform the discussion, it is best to share these in advance, so that your group-members are not surprised if you bring these up during the discussion - or can ask you about them (see below).
Also, prepare some questions to ask each other during the discussion - in case you feel one of your group members has not been able to contribute significantly.
Teamwork during the discussion
The key thing is to ensure that everyone gets a chance to contribute in a meaningful way. That is why having some prepared questions to ask each other (as mentioned above) is so important. You may not need to use them if everyone seems to have contributed well, but they are useful to have in reserve. Consider things like:
"Lucy, do you have any professional experience that is relevant here?"
"Paul, didn't you find a great article about that - can you remember the main findings?"
Your earlier preparation should mean you know they do and can - don't ask questions that could make your group members look bad. It will not make you look good!
If you want something more general, try "Dola, do you have anything to add?" or something like that.
Remember, an assessed discussion is an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the material and your ability to think critically and communicate effectively. By preparing thoroughly and participating actively in the discussion, you can showcase your skills and earn a good grade.