Division of roles

In this form of education one can distinguish three different roles: group member, discussion leader and teacher. Of course, you are the teacher. Group members and discussion leaders are students. In the following lines a brief description of the tasks for each role is given. The teacher points out one discussion leader for each group, or lets the students decide. The task can rotate as well.

Group member

Every member makes his or her own notes. If you really want to do things professionally, one member draws up the minutes. Each member has to make sure that they understand everything. If something is unclear, he or/she should ask the discussion leader or the group for clarification. Of course it is very important that group members pay attention to each other and tell the others what they think.

Discussion leader

One group member is discussion leader. This is a difficult but informative role. Good preparations make the leader’s job a lot easier. The leader makes sure that group discussions go well. He or she keeps an eye on the goal of the discussion and checks if the group members are working on that goal. He/she also makes sure that quieter students get the chance to say what they think too.

During and after the discussion he or she has to summarise what has been said and ask for clarification if something is unclear. Furthermore, the leader has to ask the other group members if they understood everything.


As a teacher you walk around between the groups. You make sure that there are no groups getting stuck and you observe the behaviour of individual students. You answer the student’s questions about the way things are done and to some extent about the content (students should find information themselves). If necessary you can make suggestions to groups. You can choose to fit the cases into your field as good as possible, or you can decide to use a multidisciplinary approach.

Keep an extra eye on the discussion leaders, who have a difficult task. For example it is very important that the leader can summarise for the group members what has happened. You can stimulate this by asking the leader how things are going, as you walk around.

Good preparations make the leader’s job a lot easier, however students might not have enough time to make these. That is why you could choose a few students as discussion leaders in advance and let them make some preparations. Another possibility is that the students receive a ready-made agenda.

This goes at all times: the more experience students have with this form of education (COE), the more attention they can give to the content (the Sustainable Footprint). So if this is your first COE-module, students will not go really deep into the subject.