Group Discussion: Questions, Topics and Activities

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  • 0:01 Choosing a Topic
  • 1:42 Types of Questions
  • 2:41 Conducting a Group Discussion
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Esther Bouchillon

Esther has taught middle school and has a master's degree in gifted education.

Have you ever found it difficult to start a group discussion? Or once you've started one, have you ever found it hard to keep it interesting? This lesson provides some basic parameters for what makes a quality group discussion, examples of good questions that promote good conversation, and methods that help keep the discussion interesting.

Choosing a Topic

Can you think of a job that never requires you to interact and communicate with other people? Probably not! Everything requires at least some human interaction at some point. Learning to discuss things and talk to other people is an essential skill that ought to be taught in school. Using group discussion, three or more people involved in a discussion, is a great way to practice these skills.

The great thing about group discussion is that it can be used in any class or subject. Although virtually anything can be discussed in a group setting, some topics are better than others. Generally, issues that have clear 'right' answers will not make for good discussion topics; the answer will be quickly established and the need to converse will quickly end. Better topic choices are things that are at least slightly controversial, ambiguous, or can have many different viewpoints. In other words, topics that are open to personal interpretation and opinion are good for group discussion, and any topic that has an ethical component can make for an exciting discussion.

Here are a few topic ideas based on the core academic school subjects:


  • Any fictional book
  • Meanings of a poem
  • How an author's background might have influenced their writing


  • The influence of a specific event in history
  • The motives of a person of historical significance
  • Debating the pros and cons of different styles of government


  • The impact and significance of a particular historical experiment
  • Interpretation of experimental results
  • Ethics in experimentation


  • The significance of graphical data
  • Comparing and contrasting different ways to solve a problem
  • Economic policy and impacts

Types of Questions

The best types of questions for a class discussion do not have 'yes/no' answers or short answers. They are also not simple based on knowledge or comprehension, where there is a definite right answer. When writing questions for discussion, it can be helpful to think about Bloom's Taxonomy, which is illustrated by a pyramid.

The pyramid of taxonomy by Bloom
Pyramid of taxonomy by Bloom

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