Investigating Student Group Discussion Participation

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Robert Stroud, Kwansei Gakuin University

A lack of student oral participation in second language discussions can often be attributed to factors such as inter-group relationships, the discussion task design, and the actions of the teacher in class. In an experiment involving 129 students in a Japanese university, I examined the effects of doing prediscussion oral practice on student participation during group discussion tasks. Students prepared for discussions by verbalizing, recording, and reflecting upon planned contributions after an initial 3-minute brainstorming period. This additional oral practice was reported by students to be insignificant for building confidence, improving retention of language, increasing willingness to communicate, or reducing anxiety for speaking on a topic. In contradiction to this, however, students reported that when the self-recorded oral practice was done before a discussion, they actually felt more confident, better able to recall prepared language, more willing to speak, and less anxious during the actual discussion.