6. Instruct on the class level. Use words,
explanations, visual illustrations, questions, and the like,
directed to the needs of the average trainee in the class.
7. Stimulate trainees to think. Think, as used here,
refers to creative thinking, rather than a mere recall of
facts previously learned. You can use a number of
instructional devices for stimulating trainee thinking.
Among those devices are thought-provoking questions,
class discussions, problem situations, challenging
statements, and rhetorical questions (a question to
which no answer is expected). Another device is the use
of suggestions, such as I want you to think along with
me and Consider your reaction to this situation.
Discussion methods are effective in getting the
trainees to think constructively while interacting with
the rest of the group. Conduct discussions with large or
small groups; however, small groups are more
desirable. You can control and direct a small group
more easily than you can larger groups of 10 or more
trainees. If a group is extremely large, break it into
smaller groups or teams with a discussion leader for
The use of the terms class discussion and directed
discussion in this text refers to methods in which you
facilitate verbal exchange in the class. To use these
methods, first lay a suitable foundation for the
discussion by asking one or more challenging
questions. Then stimulate the trainees to discuss the
basic questions; finally, guide the discussion to a
In the directed discussion, you act as the chairman
or moderator. As a result of your questions,
suggestions, and redirection of ideas, the trainees in the
class become genuinely interested in exploiting all
angles of the central problem. They forget the normal
classroom restraints and begin to talk to each other as
they would when carrying on an ordinary conversation.
A true class discussion requires a trainee-to-trainee
interchange of ideas. An instructor-to-trainee
question-and-answer period is not a class discussion.
To conduct a class discussion, you must make
more extensive and more thorough preparations than
you would for a lecture. Although the trainees supply
the ideas, you must have a thorough knowledge of the
subject matter to be able to sift out pertinent ideas. Be
aware of ideas that may lead the trainees off on a
tangent; steer the discussion away from those ideas.
Guide the trainees away from irrelevant ideas and
toward the desired goals without dominating the
You can adapt some ideas to discussions more
easily than other ideas. The most easily adaptable areas
require trainees to compare, contrast, and weigh facts,
concepts, and ideas. They also require trainees to solve
problems, particularly those dealing with human
relations, and to glean hidden or obscure information
from scattered sources. To receive full benefit from the
discussion, the trainees should have some previous
familiarity with the subject matter. They could be
familiar with the subject matter as a result of outside
reading, prior Navy training and experience, or civilian
training and experience.
To help make the class discussion a success, arrange
the classroom in such a manner that you are a part of the
group. If possible, arrange for the group to sit around a
table so that all of the trainees can see each other and
you. Use the discussion method only when classes are
small enough to allow everyone a chance to take part.
Use the following techniques in conducting a
Build a background for the discussion. The
development of an appropriate background tends to
focus the trainees attention upon the central problem
and limits the problem to an area that can be covered in a
reasonable length of time. An appropriate background
also creates interest in the solution of the problem.
Ask thought-provoking discussion questions.
Ask questions to keep the discussion in bounds,
to bring out the desired aspects of the main problem, and
to guide the discussion toward the desired conclusion.
Encourage the timid, restrain the talkative, and
maintain a standard of discipline in keeping with the
maturity level of the trainees.
Be willing to accept, temporarily, an incorrect
idea. A hasty No! or Youre wrong! can bring
sudden death to any discussion.
Avoid expressing your own ideas until the
trainees have had ample opportunity to express their
Summarize the discussion at intervals. Use the
chalkboard for this purpose. Give due credit to the
misunderstandings and emphasize correct ideas.