Guidelines for Novel Discussion Groups

The class will form discussion groups, each group to be responsible for a novel. Collaboratively, these groups direct one full class discussion (or parts of two days) and prepare handouts and other materials for the class or for the website, or both.  Individual group members may lead each discussion, but the group collaborates on planning the discussions.  Part of two class periods is set aside for organizing these groups, but subsequent meetings will need to be planned for outside of class. 


Groups should plan class activities that will meet the following goals:

Previous seminars prepared many materials which will be useful to this year’s novel groups in preparing to discuss these novels. These materials include plot outlines, annotated bibliographies, selections from the contemporary reviews, and a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Most of these are available online at the website, and all should be in hard copy (and sometimes disk copy) in the file folder supplied to each group. I expect this year’s groups to synthesize this material, and additional materials, in preparing the following written materials in support of class discussion and study of the novels:

Handouts should be provided on disk so they can be printed for the class and also put on the class website.

Instructor Conference

Each group should plan to meet with me at least once as you plan your work. Feel free to include me in your e-mail distribution.


Each group member gets a group grade (assigned to the whole group) and an individual grade. The group grade will be assigned based on the whole group’s work and the success of class discussion. The individual grade will be assigned based on reported contributions and on team-mates’ evaluations. Together these comprise 20% of the semester grade.

Group Guidelines

1. Swap names and phone numbers with everyone in the group (also email addresses).

2. Appoint someone to take notes. In those notes, always indicate:

· the date and who was present
· what was the purpose of the meeting (what were you set to accomplish?)
· what was accomplished
· what action items remain to be handled and who is handling them

3. Appoint a group leader. The leader keeps an eye on goals and accomplishments, coordinating activities and making sure everyone stays informed and on task. 

4. Make sure you divide the work equitably, but plan to discuss individual progress with group members. That is, don’t divide up the work and then never discuss it with each other again. The purpose of working as a team is to generate more and better ideas and enthusiasm than could be accomplished individually.

5. For producing handouts, etc., make SURE you are using compatible word processing systems. For example, MS Works is not compatible with MS Word. You may need to appoint someone in your group to deal with converting files or formatting .txt files.

6. If your team has problems, get advice and aid from your teacher right away! It’s particularly important that you take corrective action if a group member is not performing (e.g., not attending meetings, not meeting deadlines).

7. Always determine your next meeting date before concluding the meeting, and make sure someone in the group confirms it in writing. It’s a good idea to have a regular meeting time, such as 15 minutes before class on certain days. If everyone has good access to e-mail, you can plan "virtual" meetings, with everyone logging on at the same time.

Updated June 28, 2003
Created July 1, 1997

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