21 January 2015




Instructional techniques involving group-directed instructional inputs provide room for the learner's self-development and active participation in the teaching-learning process. In group­ directed instructional inputs, the learner is not only influenced by the stimuli, that is a part of the environment around him, but he can also in turn influence them as he too has a role in generating the stimuli. Group-directed instructional inputs, apart from the development of various higher cognitive abilities, do help in the development of affective attributes.

Let us discuss some of the group-directed instructional techniques which are useful in teaching various subjects.


The simplest form of group based learning technique is the discussion, which can be used in a variety of situations in the secondary school context. Its value lies chiefly in the fact that it represents a type of intellectual teamwork, resting on the  principle that the pooled knowledge, ideas, and feelings of several persons have greater merit than those of a single individual (Jarolimeck, 1986). The strength of discussion lies in the broad participation of members of the group. It is a process of thinking together that breaks down if one member or group dominates it. It is the responsibility of the teacher to encourage the more relevant students to participate. For example, situations like giving feedback on the responses of a class test, Clarifying  the doubts of students at the end of a lecture, resolving the debatable issues raised during the lecture, generating alternative solutions to a classroom problem, and breaking the monotony of "teacher talk" are some of the situations in which the discussion technique could be used.

Organisation :

For effective utilization of this technique, the teacher should give sufficient background information so that they already possess it and are ready to use it in the discussion. This is a primary requisite for a discussion to take off. A discussion cannot operate in a vacuum of information. The ability of the teacher to initiate a discussion often decides the ability to postpone. He may give his judgment later on the issue being discussed and the responses of individual students. The teacher's judgment, through even a non-verbal clue, can affect the nature and pattern of responses.

Instructional potential : 

It can develop higher cognitive abilities effectively apart from reinforcing knowledge. The uniqueness of this alternative lies in its simplicity, but its effectiveness is related to the abilities of the moderator or leader.

Skills associated with discussion

Jarolimek (1986) has suggested certain skills which a teacher of social studies should develop in the learners participating in discussions. These skills are as follows:
·          Listen attentively when others are speaking.
·          · Remain objective and do not become emotional.
·          Be open-minded, respect and accept the contributions of others, but think independently.
·          Assume responsibility  for the discussion and be able to support ideas with factual evidence.
·          Speak Ioudly and clearly enough for all to hear.
·          Do not dominate the discussion; contributions should be stated concisely and briefly.
·          Ask for clarification of ideas that are not understood; ask for evidence to substantiate statements.
·          Recognise the problem of semantics in arriving at group decisions or in discussing a controversial issue.
·          Assume responsibility for moving the group towards its goal.
·          Have confidence in the ability of the group to come to a satisfactory decision and support the decision of the group once it ha been made.


This. alternative is specially suitable for controversial themes or issues and for developing certain skills like logical arguing, weighing evidence, &c., in students. In social studies, debate may be organised for topics like:
     Is liberalisation necessary for the economic development of a country?
     Is the Presidential form of government better than the parliamentary form of government?
     British rule in India was a boon for Indians.
     Should India go for a capitalistic economy?


The participating students could be divided into two groups, one for a proposition and the other against it. The remaining students can form the audience. Towards the end, the audience can involve themselves in a short discussion.

Instructional potential :

The uniqueness of this alternative lies in its ability to involve the students to a very high degree in terms of gathering information, processing it and presenting to the audience, proposing, arguing and counter arguing, specially by noting the points raised by the previous speakers.


This alternative is suitable for teaching topics or themes having various dimensions. In social studies, a symposium may be arranged on such topics as:
·          Lord Buddha and his thoughts
·          Co-operative movement in India
·          Coalition. governments in India


Selected students and different staff members can form teams to make presentations. Each team would present a different dimension of the same theme, one by one, in a pre-planned sequence. It would then be thrown open to the "floor" for discussion.    A chairman initiates and regulates the proceedings.

Instructional potential :

As mentioned earlier, the uniqueness of this alternative lies in its suitability for teaching multidimensional themes or topics and thus it provides a wider perspective to the learners.


When the themes or topics are of a very complex or controversial nature, a panel discussion is a good choice as it brings out difficult aspects in a constructive manner. In social studies, panel discussions may be organised on such topics as:
·          Communism and its debacle in the world
·          Future of the United Nations
·          If Hitler had succeeded in conquering the ·entire world

Organisation :

Members of a panel could be selected students or teachers or both. Questions regarding a topic or a series of topics could be collected in advance from among the students. The questions are given to the panel members in advance depending on their expertise on the sub-themes or sub-topics so that they come prepared with answers/evidence etc. A moderator initiates the discussion by explaining the purpose and scope and raises questions in a predetermined order to various members of the panel, then the members of the panel present their views one after the other. Later on each member may also react to others' views. In the end, the different viewpoints and interactions are synthesised and summarised by the moderator.             ,

Instructional potential :

The uniqueness of this alternative lies in its ability to resolve issues and seek clarifications of controversial and multidimensional topics and themes.
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This alternative is useful in developing the creative abilities of students. Problems which demand creative or innovative solutions can be presented by the teacher to the students of  brainstorming. For example, the social studies teacher asks students to watch a television programme on "Population Problem". The next period he says to students, "we have watched the TV programme and can now find out certain solutions to the population problem  of our country''. The students come out with a list of solutions to overcome the population problem. The teacher lists them on the blackboard and does not give any judgement on the list. He asks students to select appropriate solutions from the list.

Organisation :

In a classroom, the teacher can select a problem-oriented topic and ask students to express themselves freely on various aspects of the topic. The teacher assures students that their expressions will not be criticised  or commented on in a negative way. Students should be encouraged to freely come out with their viewpoints. The teacher takes note of all these expressions. After the session, or preferably on another day, the teacher may evaluate, elaborate and integrate the ideas exposed in order to encourage further thinking among the students along newer dimension.

Instructional potential :

This technique helps  students to think creatively and is suitable for problem-oriented themes.

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