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Group Discussion with limited time


I am doing a session for only an hour. It is a group of nurses, and I want them to discuss how disability might affect different areas of health. I only have 10 minutes to spare for this part of the session. I am looking for a way to cover each area of health without them feeling rushed. I am planning to split them into groups, and ask them to discuss 1 area each, any other ideas? Thank you, Mary.

4 Responses

  1. Discussion – limited time
    It is hard to advise without knowing what the objective is for the session. Do you want to cover a breadth of ground or do you want to take some illustrative examples to make a point? Is there a particular problem or issue that is driving this? Does it have to be a discussion?
    Based on what you have said, I’d suggest a ‘talking wall’ technique where you get people milling around responding to a selection of questions, scenarios or stimulii by writing on flipcharts posted all around the room. They can ask a further question in green. Post a possible answer or response in blue. Add a learning point or tip in black. Give them 20 mins for this. Then you can either do a walkabout review or give them a few mins to look for themes and surprises before sitting down to discuss. In the last 5 mins make sure you are asking for conclusions and final comments, not opening it up further.
    Best of luck

  2. Objective and more info
    Hi Graham,

    Thanks for those ideas, that might work quite well if they can see what others in the group have contributed.

    The session in general is quite active, so I wanted a discussion near the start for those who prefer other learning styles. Also I want them to be able to use their existing knowledge, as they should know as much or more than I do on this subject with their experience in healthcare.

    The objective of this particular activity is to “Identify a range of ways in which visual impairment may affect individuals’ ability to maintain health independently”. This might sound quite broad, but when they are assessing patients, I want them to be able to bear in mind that visual impairment can potentially affect any aspect of health, and that where visual impairment causes difficulties, referrals to other services may be needed.

    Best wishes,


  3. advanced thinking
    Hi Mary
    If it is not already too late could you send out some requests for people to think about answers before the event so that they come with ready prepared thoughts, this would allow them to go straight to “share and discuss” rather than starting at “understand question, think of answers” and then going into discussion.

    You could even send different questions to different groups of people; red group question a, blue group question b…these could be “challenging” questions; “Why should we care about people with visual impairment?” or straightforward questions “What types of visual imparment have we seen and what effect did that have on the service?”

    I hope this helps

  4. brief group discussions
    As people have already said, it depends on what you want the discussion to achieve for the participants. Here are some ideas from my own experience of things that have worked. The thing is not to lose any time in the setting up of the groups, or with people asking “I’m not sure what we were meant to do. Can you remind us what we’re meant to be talking about?”

    I’d suggest that you make sure the groups are small (4 or 5). State clearly what the purpose of the group discussion is, what it’s meant to do for them. Give each group a written brief for the group discussion, along the lines of:
    “The purpose of this discussion is to [generate ideas/ share experience/ highlight challenges etc]”
    “Be sure that everyone in the group has had a chance to put their point of view”
    “Please keep a record of the main points of the discussion”
    “We are looking for the widest range of ideas and experiences, so don’t feel you need to come to agreement with each other”

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