The Evidence Portal

Group discussions or group work

Flexible activity

Group discussions or work allows participants to engage with peers within the program setting and expands opportunities for positive role-modelling and prosocial interactions.

Groups can be large or small and activities can include discussions, participation in games, roleplaying, or creative expression.

It is important for young people to be able to interact with prosocial individuals in their lives. Group work and discussion is a key way for young people to practice and develop prosocial and communication skills with fellow peers in a controlled environment.

How can it be implemented?

Group discussions or group work are best delivered in in-person settings to allow for meaningful interactions between peers. However, group discussions can also be facilitated online via web platforms.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with a number of different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • 14-17 year-old male students
  • Adolescent girls aged 13-17 at high-risk for pregnancy
  • Ethnically diverse students aged 11-14 living in low socioeconomic public housing neighbourhoods
  • 18-24 year-old young people who identify as African American
  • Students enrolled in continuation high schools
  • High school students attending a recovery high school that requires students to have a minimum of 30 days abstinence prior to enrolment
  • Girls aged 12-14 with high rates of problem behaviour including poor academic performance and truancy
  • Adolescent girls aged 13-14
  • Students enrolled in middle schools where majority of students are classified as economically disadvantaged
  • Adolescent boys attending an alternative high school for students who have struggled with behaviour problems in their traditional school
  • Students attending an alternative education school
  • 9-10th grade students aged 14-16 from diverse, medium-to-large-sized low-income public high school with substantial levels of conflict

What programs conduct this activity?

  • In Guy Talk, participants learn to obtain help and access resources in their local community.
  • In Prime Time, peer educator training involved developing a lesson plan, practicing teaching skills and teaching two group sessions. Additionally, youth leadership groups were established and provided with hand-on skill-building experiences designed to foster development of prosocial interaction skills and supportive peer relationships.
  • During the Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND) program, students participate in a group panel activity where they learn about the consequences of marijuana use and role-play those affected by marijuana use.
  • In Promoting Resilience in Self-Management (PRISM), participants undertake a mindful observation task during which they’re asked to notice any thoughts or physical awareness they had and discuss these in the group.
  • In the REAL Girls program, participants reflect on program content and set goals which are then shared with the entire program group.
  • In RealTeen, participants respond to a question or describe a personal experience and have the option of posting this to an online public chat forum established by the program. In this scenario, their response is made visible to the entire group of program participants.
  • In Speaking to the Potential, Ability and Resilience Inside Every Kid (SPARK) Pre-Teen Mentoring Curriculum, multiple learning activities are delivered via group discussions including roleplays and demonstrations to help students master content and skills.
  • Throughout the Council for Boys and Young Men program, activities are undertaken in groups and the majority involve group discussion around issues such as unhealthy masculine identity norms, friendships and bullying. At the beginning of the program, the group’s purpose and format are explained, and rules for conduct as well as hopes and fears about the group and expectations of the participants are outlined.
  • Group discussion also featured in Transformative Life Skills (TLS) during which instructors engage students in conversation around stress management, body and emotional awareness, self-regulation and building healthy relationships.
  • In Art from Ashes Phoenix Rising Poetry Workshops, youth share their poems with the rest of the program group.
  • In Color it Real, participants discuss a variety of topics in small groups and practice effective communication skills via gameplay, exercises and roleplaying.
  • In No program name: Incremental intervention, participants partake in small group discussions based on program content.

What else should I consider?

Facilitators should monitor and oversee group work or group discussions to ensure conduct and communication remains appropriate and within the bounds of the program.

Further resources

Last updated:

24 Nov 2022

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