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My First Discussion Classes

Alkida Hasaj is a Lector in the Tourism Department at the University of Shkodra ‘Luigj Gurakuqi’ in Albania. She was also a participant in the 50-Hour Training Course in the IF Discussion Process that IF Fellows Mark Notturno and Ieva Notturno conducted in Washington DC last Spring for Junior Faculty Development Program (JFDP) scholars. After successfully completing the training course, Alkida won a grant from IF to support her use of the IF Discussion Process in her ‘Economics of Tourism’ course at the University of Shkodra ‘Luigj Gurakuqi’. Alkida has just begun to teach the course, and the following is a report about the first discussion sessions in her class.

By Alkida Hasaj

In our first discussion session we explored the question “What are the different dimensions of Tourism and Economy?” The class has 20 students, so I divided it into two groups with 10 students each. I facilitated the discussions for both groups and used the flipcharts to capture the major points that the students made. Each discussion session lasted 90 minutes, and two different students took notes.

The students were responsible and serious in these discussion sessions. Everyone wrote down their ideas about the different dimensions about the tourism and economy before we began to discuss them. This took several minutes, and they were very quiet and obviously thinking during the time they were writing. When they were all ready, they began one by one to give their points of view.

The discussion stayed on track during the entire session, and it was no debate. But their ideas were not so very different from each other. They instead suggested dimensions of Tourism and Economy that were very similar to each other. You might think that they were copying what each other had said. But this is not true because each one read what they had written down on their paper before the discussion began. I think the note takers did a good job. But I also noticed that they looked very stressed. This is probably because students in Albania are not used to taking notes during their classes.

I think that these sessions were successful and a good start. As I mentioned above, the students were very serious in doing their part. After the discussions, I produced a discussion summary with four sections for each group, which I distributed to the students by email. The first section listed the most important ideas discussed in the session. The second section listed the flip chart notes that I took during the discussion. The third included the note taker’s notes. And the fourth gave my own impressions about the discussion.