Small Group Instruction Method
Small group instruction is a modern 'teaching method' in teaching. Although it was used in ancient times by Socrates in his question and answer system. The pioneer of this method is B.F. Skinner, who, with the help of Dr. Sidney L. Pressey, had given this great contribution to the education world. He has applied the psychological theory of learning as a teaching method in a practical way.
It is a theory that if the child is immediately told the evaluation of the solution to his question, then the opportunities for growth in his learning are increased. Skinner invented (in 1950) an educational device that immediately tells the child the answer to his question as 'right' or 'wrong'. This invention has confirmed that the child learns well by getting the results immediately.
"Small group instruction or learning is a matrix with the help of which learning materials are arranged in a sequence in which the desired behavior changes can be continuously attempted and measured in the students."
Meaning of Small Group Programmed Instruction
This method divides the content of knowledge into small terms and organizes them in a systematic and logical manner in such a way that the student proceeds to self-study with an interesting self. In this, the child gets reinforcement through feedback after knowing the result immediately, which motivates him to learn further.
Definition of Small Group Instruction
1. According to Prof. Roush, “A special type of instruction in learning that teaches a student new material and gives an opportunity to test his learning is called small group instruction or sometimes automated instruction.”
2. According to Frand Stoffel, “Reaction is the arrangement of small components of life in a logical sequence and this type of whole-programmed learning is called small group instruction.”
3. According to Susan Michael, “Small group instruction is a method in which the student proceeds at his own pace while keeping himself engaged and he is also informed about the results immediately."
4. According to Dale Ager, “Small group instruction is a systematic step-to-step self-learning program that ensures the learning of predetermined behaviour."
Steps of Small Group Instruction
The study of small group instruction is accomplished through the following steps-
- Selecting the case.
- Formulate objectives and write them in practical form.
- Analyzing the content and determining the sequence of instruction.
- Formulation of standard test.
- Determining the format of instruction.
- Write down the terms of programmed instruction.
- Checking on the group or checking the posts.
- To evaluate.
Basic Principles of Small Group Instruction
The content of an effective small group instruction is based on some core acts. These are also called Fundamental Principles. In fact these are Functional Principles. These Acts provide for the process of programmed-learning. These acts have been rendered on the basis of the research work of the laboratory of psychology. These are the five fundamental Acts, which are described as follows-
- Principal of Small Steps,
- Principal of Active Responding,
- Principal of Immediate Confirmation
- Principal of Self Study Speed.
(1) Principle of short terms:- In programmed instructional material, the text is arranged in small terms and presented in a sequence. A blank space is provided in each post for the response of the students. The correct response to the post is also done with the same. While reading the student hides the correct answer. The student reads only one verse at a time. The concept of this act is that the student learns the content easily by studying small steps and acquires mastery over the content.
(2) Principle of Readiness Response:- The second achievement of the research work of the psychology laboratory is that if the student is ready at the time of learning, then he learns more. After reading the terms of programmed instruction, the student has to respond appropriately to the vacancy. Without being prompt, the student cannot respond properly. It is the principle of learning that the learner learns more 'by doing'. This concept is followed in this act of instruction. The student has to be more prepared to respond properly to the posts.
(3) Principle of Immediate Confirmation:- This act is the third achievement of the psychological laboratory. It has the concept that the student learns more by confirming the responses together. The reaction of the students by being prompt while reading the posts, they also have to be checked immediately. With the right response, the student gets new knowledge and also gets reinforcements. The correct response to the term is also given in the instructional material. The student himself confirms his response with his help.
(4) Principle of self-learning speed:- This is the fourth achievement of the research work of the psychological laboratory. The learner learns more if he is given the opportunity to learn at his own pace. This act deals with individual differences. Each student responds by reading the term and checks it himself. After that he moves on to the next post. In all these activities, the student has the freedom to study the terms according to his abilities and speed of study. The reading time of the posts is different for each student.
Need of Small Group Instruction
In general classroom teaching, it is generally difficult to learn how to provide education to the children on the basis of individual differences in such a way that they can learn easily at their own pace. Many efforts are made by the teacher in this direction, but this complexity can be reduced to some extent and not a complete solution. Small group instruction is such a method of education which provides opportunity to the child to learn on his own. This automatically reduces the complexity of teaching due to individual differences.
Benefits of small group instruction
There are many benefits to small group instruction-
1. Personalize Instruction
Small group instruction allows teachers to work more closely with each student. This type of instruction provides the opportunity to evaluate students' learning strengths, locate gaps in the development of their reading or math skills and tailor lessons focused on specific learning objectives. In addition, small group instruction allows teachers to check for understanding, reinforce skills presented in whole group instruction, and/or change the pacing of a lesson.
2. Provide Feedback
Small group instruction allows a teacher to monitor student actions more closely and to provide frequent and individualized feedback at point of use to improve specific reading or math skills.
3. Reteach or Preteach
Small group instruction is an opportunity for teachers to provide additional teaching and practice often needed for struggling students to master important skills or understand key concepts. Through the use of diagnostic assessment, a teacher can determine skills or concepts for which students may need for instructional support. Small group instruction also provides an opportunity for teachers to pre-teach specific vocabulary, challenging text structures, or other prerequisite knowledge to English learners or any students who may experience difficulty in upcoming lessons.
4. Build Confidence Through Collaboration
Small group instruction can provide a comfortable environment and boost the confidence of students who might not otherwise participate in a lesson or activity. Small group instruction encourages teamwork as everyone in the group is working toward achieving the same goal.
5. Flexible Learning
One advantage of small group instruction is that time can more flexibly be allocated to where it is needed. If one or two children are struggling with a concept, then it is likely worth the entire group working a bit harder on said topic, or failing that, it can be easier to monitor the rest of the students whilst taking one student to the side for individual attention.
6. Inspiring Confidence
Often when pupils don't participate in large group discussions, it can be an issue of self belief, rather than the assumed laziness. However, in smaller groups, the informal atmosphere can often allow tutors to bring all students into the conversation, giving them the encouragement they need to participate. Furthermore, for those in single gender or faith schools, tutoring can also be an important factor in increasing social skills with people of other background.
7. More Opportunities for Feedback
All too often at schools, feedback for students can be limited to marked work and annual parents' evenings. In smaller groups, feedback on work can go well beyond to A to F grade, or a score out of 10. Furthermore, in the more informal and relaxed environment, students are more likely to receive instant feedback on their ideas as they are. contributing more to discussions, which is hard to replicate on a larger scale.
8. People can be Patient
Lesson plans in modern teaching can often feature an airtight schedule. In the world of 30 child classrooms and constant testing, if one child needs a bit of extra attention on a particular topic, this can often slip through the cracks. This is not the fault of teachers, but merely a reality of the current education system. However, in small group settings, tutors and teachers are much more likely to be able to deviate from a less rigid plan and allow kids to develop at their own pace.
9. Small Groups can Build Team Working Skills
The more intimate environment of a small learning group is also great for building teamwork skills. Whilst students may sink into the background or get distracted in large settings, a small, tight knit team working towards the same problem or project places a child in a situation where they have to be socially active, bringing both educational and social progress forward at the same time.
Limitations of Small Group Instruction
- In this, special attention is not given to the interests and needs of the children.
- In this technology, learning in this technology is done only under controlled conditions.
- These techniques do not affect the meritorious students much.
- Under this technique, it is a difficult task to prepare the proper frame or post to use this technique.
- The teacher needs special training.