Discussion as a method of learning for the development and formation of reflective thinking

UDC 378.147
Publication date: 30.01.2023
International Journal of Professional Science №1-2023

Discussion as a method of learning for the development and formation of reflective thinking

Lashina Ekaterina N.
Senior Lecturer of the Department of Foreign Languages,
St. Petersburg State University of Industrial
Technology and Design. Higher School of Technology and Energy
Abstract: One of the basic interactive methods of learning in the educational process – discussion – is considered in the article. The advantages of this method are described on the example of its use in practice when holding a conference for university students.
Keywords: interactive method of learning, discussion, debates, effectiveness, reflection, motivation.

There are many methods of learning a foreign language. In a non-linguistic university, the main criterion for choosing an appropriate method is good efficiency in a limited period of time with a fairly voluminous and lexically complex material. In education, three types of methods of learning have developed, established themselves and become widespread:

  1. Passive methods
  2. Active methods
  3. Interactive methods

Each of them has its own characteristics.

The passive method is a form of interaction between students and the teacher, in which the teacher is the main actor and manager of the lesson, and students act as passive listeners, subordinate to the teacher’s directives. Communication between the teacher and students in passive lessons is carried out through surveys, self-study, tests, tests, etc.

From the point of view of modern pedagogical technologies and the effectiveness of students’ assimilation of educational material, the passive method is considered the most inefficient, but despite this, it also has some advantages. This is a relatively easy preparation for the lesson on the part of the teacher and the opportunity to present a relatively large amount of educational material in the limited time frame of the lesson. Lecture is the most common type of passive method of learning. This type of lesson is widespread in universities, where adults study, fully formed people with clear goals to deeply study the subject.

The active method is a form of interaction between students and the teacher, in which the teacher and students interact with each other during the lesson and the students here are not passive listeners, but active participants in the lesson. If in a passive lesson the teacher was the main actor and manager of the lesson, then here the teacher and students are on an equal footing. If the passive method assumes an authoritarian style of interaction, then active methods of learning suggest a democratic style.

Interactive method. Interactive (“Inter” is mutual, “act” is to act) means to interact, to be in a conversation mode, a dialogue with someone. In other words, unlike active methods, interactive ones are focused on a wider interaction of students not only with the teacher, but also with each other and on the dominance of student activity in the learning process.

Many between active and interactive methods put an equal sign, however, despite the generality, they have differences. Interactive methods can be considered as the most modern form of active methods [1].

One of the most effective interactive methods of learning is discussion.

A discussion is a public discussion or a free verbal exchange of knowledge, judgments, ideas or opinions about any controversial issue or problem. If we talk about learning at a professional level, then in this situation, the discussion can be used in a number of situations where it is necessary to exchange the knowledge that people have, as well as all kinds of beliefs. All this provides all the necessary resources to form a new view of professional activity, this or that event, other people, as well as change the behavior model under certain circumstances, organize an intense thought process, and also contribute to the development of interpersonal relationships and achieve effective feedback [2].

In order for this method to work with a large number of participants, it is necessary to mix students into groups, taking into account their level of foreign language proficiency, and clearly and specifically define their work within the set cases. Next, the groups are invited to give arguments for and against as the easiest way to communicate between them.

Features of the group discussion method:

— participants in the discussion from different angles can see the problem by comparing opposite positions;

— mutual positions are specified, which reduces resistance to the perception of new information;

— in the process of open statements, the emotional bias in assessing the position of partners is eliminated, and thus hidden conflicts are leveled;

— a group decision is developed with the status of a group norm;

— you can use the mechanisms of assigning and accepting responsibility, increasing the involvement, reflection of the participants in the discussion in the subsequent implementation of group decisions;

— the need of the participants in the discussion for recognition and respect is satisfied if they have shown their competence, and thereby the efficiency of their return and interest in solving the group problem is increased [3].

Discussion as an interactive method of learning can take many forms.

There are the following types of discussion – a round table and debates [4].

  1. A round table. The main purpose of the round table is to collect and systematize the discovered material on a given issue with further discussion and exchange of information. A characteristic feature of holding a round table is the simultaneous participation of a sufficient number of speakers for this form of discussion (25-30).
  2. Debates. An obligatory component of this type of discussion is the presence of polar points of view on certain issues. Students must demonstrate argumentation skills when defending their own theses [5].

The debates were tested at the marathon event “Let’s play English”, which takes place annually at the St. Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design, the Higher School of Technology and Energy, St. Petersburg.

Fig. 1. Debates of the conference participants https://gturp.spb.ru/?p=49356

In practice, various interactive methods of learning were used to fully achieve the fastest possible acceptance and assimilation of new material, while all students, without exception, were involved in the process. During this, there was an intensification of the process of understanding, assimilation and application of knowledge in solving practical problems due to the more active involvement of students in the process of not only obtaining, but also the direct use of knowledge.

The marathon “Let’s play English” is divided into two parts. In the first part of the event, game methods of learning are used, in the second part – the conference – the discussion method is used.

Students, based solely on their own knowledge, choose to participate either in the game part only, which is designed for basic knowledge, or in the conference, designed for a slightly higher level, or both. Moreover, by mixing students in groups of four, according to the level of language proficiency, students with a basic level of English can take part in the second part, since within the groups they have the opportunity to actively interact with each other and provide support.

This approach helps to increase the motivation and reflection of the participants in solving the problems discussed, which gives an emotional impetus to the subsequent search activity of students, encourages them to take specific actions.

Summing up, it can be said that the method of discussion as one of the methods of interactive learning is increasingly used, including in professionally oriented learning. This is mainly because this method is problematic – it allows you to seamlessly integrate the knowledge of students from different areas when solving a specific problem, it makes it possible to apply language knowledge and skills in practice, while generating new ideas [6].

This method provides not only an increase in knowledge, skills, methods of activity and communication, but also the disclosure of new opportunities for students, and is also a necessary condition for the formation and improvement of competencies through the inclusion of participants in the educational process in a meaningful experience of individual and collective activities to gain experience, awareness and acceptance of values.

In addition, mastering the norms of rational speech communication, the rules for conducting discussions forms a responsible attitude to speech, which is one of the most important requirements for a modern specialist in any field of activity. The formation of debatable and argumentative skills is necessary for the full development of the communicative and intellectual self-sufficiency of the individual [7]. That is why the discussion method is one of the most effective interactive methods of learning of modern education in higher school, which develops and forms reflective thinking.


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