Features of qualitative discussion
- Gain: Participants gain new insights/findings
- Representacy: All participants or groups of participants are involved
- Dialogue: Participants react dialogical on the opposite statements
- Respect: They appreciate the opposite statements and treat the opponents in a fair and equal way.
- Diversity: All aspects and opinions were introduced
- Result: At the end the discussion helped everybody for answering the main question
- Facilitative moderator: The moderator lets the process flow and enables the disputants to contribute ton the discussion.
Role of the Moderator
The moderator has a rather neutral role, not sympathizing with one party. As the main goal of a discussion is interactive exchange, a moderating person
- allows difference,
- helps each party to formulate its point of view most precisely
- ensures, that the discussion remains in all phases discursive, which means that the controversy is constructive and pacified.
- takes care for the enforcement of the discussion rules
- has the discussion goal/main question in mind
- makes the process easier to follow for audiences (like through paraphrazing and short summaries)
One general feature of a discussion is its formalized rules. They make sure, that the discussion remains fair and allows each party to show its point of view. They may include
- time regulations for each contribution
- speaker lists (sometimes assembeld following proportional criteria like gender balance, partys balance, representation of all participants' groups...)
- the power and limitations of the moderator
- the criteria for those that are allowed to participate actively (only elected parlamentarians in a parliament, only participants of a panel, open discussion,...)
- the quotability of the said (some discussions are not allowed to be quoted in the public like those under the Chatham rule , some are open)
Typical Discussion Process
- Introduction into the topic - the goal and the leading question
- Presentation of the discussion rules
- Formalized Exchange of opinions and contributions according to the discussion rules
- Final statements
Facilitator and educational expert since 2001, author of handbooks for facilitators. Focus: particuipation, civil engagement, diversity-cobnscious learning, rememberance, mentoring, train-the-trainer.