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Classroom Processes, Activities and Discourse

Category : Teaching


Classroom Processes, Activities and Discourse



  • Understand the meaning of classroom discourse
  • Understand about various approaches to learning
  • Elaborate about the issues associated with various approaches that help to understand the classroom discourse
  • Become an effective teacher with abilities to organize various activities for learners



In last few chapters, we developed an in-depth knowledge about Social science such as its nature, epistemology, challenges, issues, and so on. At the beginning of this chapter, we have a comprehensive understanding and teaching of Social science. The main objective of the chapter is to engage the classroom processes with various activities. It has been already established that Social science is not a simple subject rather is a complex enough as it deals with subjectivity and Social issues and concerns. Initially, this chapter will discuss various perspectives and approaches to learning, but it is important to understand that these approaches are not only psychological rather these are based on classroom activity based. How to make a Social science class more interesting, effective, and so on? Discussions in the following sections will also facilitate to know about the handful and practical activities to engage learner in the class.



There are various approaches to learning. It is important to know that approaches to learning, that is the ways of learning and how to organize active, collaborative, lively, problem-solving based, and experiential activities in classroom. Further section of the chapter will deal with these approaches in details. These approaches of learning are as follows:

             1.         Active learning approach

             2.         Collaborative learning approach

             3.         Inquiry-based learning approach

             4.         Problem-based learning approach

             5.         Peer learning approach

             6.         Community learning approach

             7.         Experience-based learning approach

             8.         Reflective learning approach


Active Learning Approach

Active learning approach can be understood when learners are engaged in two-way process simultaneously and it means doing any work and thinking about the work he/she is doing. It means that active learning approach rejection is an idea of simply watching, listening, or noting down from the board. However, an important thing has to be kept in mind that active learning should not be for long duration of time, rather, it should be short duration of time such as a few minutes. Active leaning is a flexible approach for teaching, as it can be used with any other way of teaching; for example, it can be merged with lecture methods, group activities, collaborative

task, and so on.

There is also a need to understand why we need to incorporate or use active learning strategies for teaching. There is research-based evidences that simple lecture method makes class boring, where children fail to relate themselves with the classroom processes. The concept of teachers know all and learners know nothing dominant in lecture methods. Active learning simply means to make learners participate in the classroom processes actively and doing this will surely provide a special space to every children in class. It will motivate learners to reach to their best potentials. In active learning, because every child is participating and teacher is also actively engaged, therefore, learners will get immediate feedback to improve their further learning. Teachers will also be able to deal with diverse learning processes. It is also important to know that when learners are actively engage with the content given to them, they will be able to develop a rapport with the content and start feeling part of it, which enhance the possibility to motivate learners in their field of interest. Let learner also decides the way that they want to become active participant,  whether in group or individual and any other way, which make them comfortable. This process will develop not only their confidence but also their self-esteem and identity. They will be able to see themselves as an individual and also as social human being who has responsibilities towards society. Teachers need to understand the need of the importance of pre-class task. Teacher should have ready activities, strategies, content, and other associated things to actually create an active

learning environment.


What teachers have to keep in mind?

It will be essential for teachers to become aware about the various activities that are related to active learning process. There are many such activities already available, such as 'round table discussion, study circle, think pair share, etc., and those are already available and have to choose as per the need of the situation. There would be required to change these activities considerably so that learning needs of the learners can be addressed. Critical and crucial issues need to be considered important by teacher while planning any activity. The clear procedure and rules of the activity should be developed by the teachers. Moreover, include learners to contribute in all such activities and ru[e making.


Peer Teaching Learning

Peer teaching is a very good and effective system or process of engaging learners in an active atmosphere, where every learner is participating in learning process and facilitating each other also. In this method, learner agency is actually celebrated. Here, they start work collectively and evaluate collectively. This process also developed a sense of belongingness. Discussion is another important aspect of peer learning.

It is important to understand that peer learning has also evolved over a period of time; therefore, one can find various, interpretations of peer learning. Traditionally, it is defined when senior student tutor the junior students, and now, we understand it in terms of everyone support everyone or we can say partnership. Here, there is no hierarchy and every leaner has potential to participate in learning process at their own pace. There are many other ways those explain the idea of peer learning, such as counselling, seminars, and study group, and so on.

We can understand peer learning in two specific manners where first deals with reciprocal learning process and the second talks about sharing ideas, knowledge, experience, etc. In both the cases, we have common characteristics that emphasize on interdependency than being only independent. This positive dependency is common in both the cases.

This will provide opportunities to explore and understand others' ideas to develop one's understanding about any issues and concerns. They also develop ability to conduct and organize activities to work and learn collaboratively.

However, it is very important to understand that one has to use peer-learning process very carefully. If there will be some uncertainty or lack of clarity, learners will not be able to understand the process and whole idea of peer teaching will be defeated. Learner will be confused about what they have to do and how? What is the purpose and so on? This healthy process of learning, in the absence of learning will become useless and inappropriate for everyone.

On the other hand, if the process of peer learning is organized effectively, it will surely and effectively contribute in learning of the learners. It will also provide opportunities to leaners to learn from each other. They will also be able to help how to learn than only what to learn. It is important to know whom we are calling peer. Peer will be the same age mates and who does not have to play a role of expert like teachers. In such a situation, they will feel themselves to be accepted in the group. There will be no power over each other and each one of them will enjoy sharing their experiences without right and wrong. This entire process will take place in a reciprocal way and organized in a class itself, where each learner will take responsibility of both teaching and learning. It will also be helpful to avoid and deal with the problem of comparison among learners.

Peer-learning work as twofold objective where learners learn themselves and also help others to learn. These kinds of arrangement provide space for understanding mutual experiences, which facilitate their learning processes. Habermas's idea can be quoted here, where he talked about the weakness of the system where one person is given duty to teach and other is given duty to learn.

We also have to understand the peer learning beyond learning with each other. It also emphasizes the various kinds of support to the learner, in which emotional support can be one of them. Here, the role of learner can be understood beyond student because the role is not unidirectional and each one has space to contribute to the classroom discourse.


Collaborative Learning Approach

Social constructivism is the base of collaborative learning. Social constructivism is in favour of social embeddedness of knowledge. It strongly believes that all knowledge has a social context. It believes that learners play an important and active role in learning and construct their knowledge through their active participation. Therefore, learner becomes important in this process, where, doing part plays major role over listening. It is also important to know that when we favour the idea of social construction of knowledge, we must have faith in group work and team work processes.

The important focus is given on interaction. This interaction can take place with reference to peer or in larger group. The idea of peer learning represents the process in which two or more peers work together and try to understand any concept or try to solve any problem. Teachers have to provide the necessary material to complete the task and then leave the learner with that material to discuss and understand, but teacher has to observe and facilitate the entire process, such as dealing with misunderstandings, providing cognitive apprenticeship to learners, and so on.

There are various researches which show that collaborative learning processes are best suited to the idea of active and social embeddedness of the learning process. Beyond this, there are various other important benefits of collaborative learning, which are as follows:

          1.         Promote higher order thinking skills, effective communication, self-reflection, and various life skills.

          2.         Meaningful and useful teacher-learner relationship.

          3.         Develop the learning ability of learner, self-esteem, and collaborative responsibilities.

          4.         Understanding the diverse perspective in learning situations.

          5.         Developing a collaborative humanitarian perspective about the various issues, concerns, and concepts.


There are various kinds of collaborative work activities available such as think pair-share, wish bowl debate, catch-up, team-based learning, jigsaw, and so on.

Other important things that need to be kept in mind, while collaborative work especially when it is based on group work, are as follows: the process of group formation and ensuring the learners are engaged in useful and productive task, technobgical support or assistance, abilities of learners in a group, and so on.

It is important for group work that the problem needs to be broken down into relatively small segments, so that students can work on it to solve it to the best of their abilities. After the problem is solved by the various groups, the opportunity of peer review must be given to understand the each other perspectives. Therefore, it is important to provide enough time and space to learners to engage with the entire process.

One has to be aware that assessment is an important part of the group work process. For this purpose, both process and product can be evaluated and teacher must provide a detailed explanatory report about the work done by the learners. Self-assessment, peer review, or a rubric developed by teachers can be used for evaluation.


Inquiry- and Discovery-based Learning Approach

Inquiry-based learning is a deviation from the idea, which focuses only on classroom learning process. Therefore, it includes filed work or interactive activities, where a child can try to unfold the uncovered ideas and perspectives about any concern and concept. This process will provide them space to engage with the field actively and observed actual situation and facts in the field itself. This also promotes their meta-cognitive abilities, because they get chance to think and explore in the field. This is a good practice to help learners to use their classroom knowledge in the field. This also develops a sense of belongingness with the data and learned knowledge.

It is also important to know that there is possibility that one will not get chance every time to work in the field. In such a situation, this approach can be used with reference to classroom activities, where, virtual environment will develop a space to solve to problem more effectively and learners will be able to deal with real world problems.

There are many positive dimensions that one can identify about the inquiry-based learning processes. The core idea behind this process is not just engaging learner in learning situation but engaging them in the social process of exploring knowledge and taking it to the level of elaboration and critical reflection, which will surely provide spaces to unfold the unsaid and unrevealed reality of any social phenomenon.

Lecture method restricts the natural process of learning, where inquiry- and discovery-based learning provide enrich direct experience to the learner. They gain comprehensive understanding about the concept, because they are the active participant in inquiry. Learners are engaged in filed and learn skills, which is not the case in traditional teaching method, where everything is given to them. The exploration provides them space to develop or create connections between various concepts they deal with.

Here, it is also important to know the how one can actually organized such activities in actual classroom situations. There are many points that may useful to organized inquiry and discovery based learning. These are as follows:

1.             Learning activities need to be developed according to the need and objectives of the learning. In the absence of learning objective that one like to achieve, no concrete step can be taken towards them. These objectives will also provide a direction to work and future action.

2.             Understand and decide the requirements of your work. It may include many things such as time

duration, means to be used, kind of work to be done, and independency of the work.

3.             Time limit is needed to complete the work and it will be done successfully if we can set our target or

expectation.                                                                      '

4.             Gage the need of learners and decide the support you can provide to them. This support, for sure

provide a positive strength in learners to be more confident and work oriented through problem solving.

5.             Teacher needs to be sure about what is to be assess and what would be the tools of assessments. Such

as, learning is to be assessed, or skill development or anything else. Learners also need to be aware about the assessment criteria so that they can work with focus to achieve the target.


Problem-based Learning Approach

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an innovative approach of teaching. It can also be seen as an alternative to classical or traditional classroom learning. In problem-based learning, teacher does not lecture but provide problem or problem-based situation and ask learner to deal with it. Although teacher is available there for all kinds of support, the teacher does not provide solutions to the problems. Learners have to decide their own way of problem solving. This process will engage them in the mode of discovery and learners will take ownership of the problem solving and therefore, learning too. Teacher will work as a facilitator than problem solver.

Problem-based learning will provide space to develop various kinds of strength and abilities in learners. It provides spaces for the following:

        1.         To come out with previous knowledge and understanding and try it out with reference to problem

        2.         Explore about what one need to learn

        3.         Develop skills to solve the problems

        4.         Develop ability to take one's position with sound arguments

        5.         Become flexible in dealing with various kinds of situations

There are various ways to work on the idea of problem-based learning. It depends on the kind of problem one is dealing with. One of such way may understood through these given steps: issues exploration, previous knowledge about the issue, stating the problem in one's own language, exploring the possible/tentative solution of the problem, action to be taken to deal with the problem, what additional need to be known, documenting solution with appropriate support, rethink and revisit your solution and do not forget to encourage yourself.

So, problem-based learning provides challenges to learners' thinking to become active member of the problem-solving process. An ill structure situation starts the process of problem solving, where learner understand and explore the possible ways to deal with the problem. What is good about problem-based learning is that it is student centred and focus is more on learning than teaching. problem-based learning engage learner with authentic context in real-world situation, and therefore, it becomes a way of living life.

Various psychological studies proved that problem-based learning stays for longer in comparison to lecturing any concept and it happens because of the active engagement of learner, where he/she will be able to take first-hand experience while dealing with the problem. One of the most important positive feature of problem-based learning is that learner enjoy learning process because they play an active role in entire process.


Experiential Learning Approach

When we try to reflect, analyse, and work upon a decided experience is known as experiential learning. In other work, it is learning based on one's actual experience to achieve a planned aim with the help of planned objectives.

The roots of experiential learning can be traced in Paulo Friere's and Dewey's work, where both of them argue the education has an important work to do for people and that is to make them empower and active thinker. This very idea stands opposite to the idea of 'banking' process of education and 'tabula rasa.' Both of these thinkers believed that the relationship between teacher and student must be reciprocal, where everybody is a learner and everybody is a teacher.They believe at larger-level education has to serve the society.

Dewey also did not accept the idea that education has an objective to accumulate the information. His idea was to develop abilities to be active in learning process and take part in democracy. Dewey explained few steps of education process. These are encountering with problem, question to be answered, data collection, development of hypothesis, hypothesis testing, providing justified proclamations. These six steps provide a chance to develop abilities to become an active member of the society.

Kolb's model is also very known about experiential learning. Kolb talked about four steps/ stages about experiential learning. He developed a cyclic process in this regard. These four stages

(Fig. 3.1) are as follows:

1. Concrete experience

2. Reflective observation

3. Developing abstract concepts

4. Active experimentation

It is very important to know that every experience does not generate knowledge. To generate knowledge, it is significantly necessary that one has to be actively involved in the learning experience. Passive presence will not be able to help learners to generate knowledge. The active involvement must lead a person to reflect upon the gained experiences. Reflection based on analytical process will help learners to understand any concept in a comprehensive manner. Further, this comprehensiveness will provide insight into engage with new ideas. However, it is important to know that teacher has an important role to play in this entire process.



It is also relevant to know why experiential learning woks? It has clear relation with our brain process. The very idea of sensory cortex, back integrative cortex, front integrative cortex, and motor cortex can better explain it biological context. Kolb's idea of experiential learning also represents these four parts and associates with collecting, analysing, developing, and acting.

Experiential learning is not a new approach, but it is a traditional approach and a fundamental approach to human learning. However, how to incorporate this approach in present time need to be known as time has changed, and therefore, requirement has also changed.


Community Learning Approach

Community learning or engagement may also be known as service learning and the larger aim of this pedagogic process is to deal with individual or collective good or one can say the objective of community learning is common good for larger community. It also means that the person needs to take part in the practices of community. This idea is directly associated with the idea of community participation under situated cognition approach of learning. It involves authentic participation that provides space for reflection to the students to develop their academic and cognitive skills for thoughtful and effective actions.

It is important to understand that one cannot completely separate experiential and community learning; experiences are gained from community only. Community learning will benefit people from various perspectives such as personal, learning, social, professional, and so on.

At personal level, it develops high-level self-confidence, self-efficacy, positive self-concept along with the development of interpersonal skill specifically perspective to work in a larger community. As far as learning is concerned, it surely impact learners' academic growth positively because it provide space to develop abilities to understand the real-world situation. This will also help them to deal with the complexities and ambiguities of the analysis of the problems solving and cognitive processes.

Developme'nt- of social-level ability is unique to this approach as weaken the stereotypical thinking and promote cultural diversity that develops the acceptability of others with positive perspective. And all this will happened with respect to a larger social framework.

Development in above-mentioned level will help for a better professional perspective and orientation, because they will learn to work in collaboration with others, where, working together to achieve some goal is required. And foremost one will work in favour of community then one's own pity interests. They will also be able to develop leadership qualities. Better interpersonal communication will also be strengthening by this approach.

Teachers will also be benefited by having good and quality student. Teachers will also get new opportunities to engage with new researches, which provide space to strengthen the teachers, competencies and teachers students' inter-personal relationship. Teachers will become able to work towards social services and will contribute in social community.

Teachers themselves or students can be involved in community-based learning with the help of various processes such as group projects, course-based community work, necessary inherent part of research, action research, and so on. Therefore, community-based teaching is good for learners, teachers, and community also.


Reflection Learning Approach

Have you as a teacher ever tried to ask your student to reflect upon questions such as, how do you teach? How they understand and learn? Do they have some suggestion to share with you? How do they reflect about their own learning and so on? It is important to know that reflection will not provide immediate solutions rather provide an understanding about the problems and how to deal with it.

One also has to understand that reflection is long process, where one has to be engaged continuously. Here, reflection has to be done from both sides, students and teachers. This collaborative process will surely help in effective teaching and learning process.

Reflective learning will provide space to become more intellectual about their own intellectual. They will develop ability to think about their own ideas and thinking processes, which will eventually help them to become independent reflective learners. This reflective ability will also help them to use knowledge in their daily life to understand the issues and problem of their actual life. They will also become able to analyse situations from need-based perspective.

However, to develop such abilities, it is necessary that one must have engaged in the process of reflective practices for a prolonged period of time. While engaging with this process, one also has to understand that there is no need to be judgemental rather; one should have faith in exploration, elaboration, and so on.

A fundamental question can be asked here that how incorporate reflection in actual practice in classroom process. Some of the suggestions are given below:

1.         Ask students how have their understanding changed after reading a particular chapter or topic.

           2.         Ask them to write something about the class every day. (may be few lines or a single line, but ensure consistency).

3.         Ask them to think practical implication of what have they discussed in a class.

           4.         Ask them to think interdisciplinary, where they can develop relationship between various subjects they are studying.

5.         Ask them to reflect about what they want to study in the course and why, try to incorporate it.

6.         Ask them to write important ideas about the concepts discussed and share with the class.

           7.         Ask them before hand, how they would like to engage in the upcoming topic in class and then develop class with the collaboration of learners.

These are some of the ways that will put learner on the path of reflection. There is also a need to understand that reflection is highly associated with meta-cognitive thinking processes, and therefore, there will be a great need to promote metacognitive thinking abilities in learners. Metacognition can be understood and thinking about thinking or thinking over thinking. It talks about the understanding of how one learns, awareness about one's own learning, monitoring and assessing one's own learning (it may also be called self-assessment or self-discipline) and alike, To promote meta-cognitive abilities, teachers have to deal with both procedural and conditional knowledge along with self-regulation.


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