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The Discussion Book by Stephen Preskill, Stephen D. Brookfield

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Chapter 42

Setting Ground Rules

Many discussions go awry simply because no attempt has been made to develop ground rules for discussion. This technique gets everyone involved in doing this.

Purposes

  • To help discussants identify the specific behaviors that are likely to contribute to more fruitful conversations
  • To give discussants practice in enacting these behaviors in an actual conversation

How It Works

  • People begin by individually and silently writing down recollections of their best and worst discussion experiences. They are told to note specifically and concretely what features made discussions so satisfying or frustrating.
  • People gather in small groups of four to six members and each person shares his or her notes.
  • Groups then ...

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