• Stimulating Small-Group Discussion Activity 8: Impulse Control: Don’t Look at Social Media while Studying


Cover read for discussion SHOT

*(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

 Some reasons why students seemed stimulated by this discussion:

1) They could relate to the two research studies about impulse control in the article.

2) They were interested to compare how they would have performed as subjects of the studies compared to their classmates.

3) They enjoyed sharing their experiences with controlling impulses and delaying gratifications in their everyday lives.

4) They were surprised by the effects the lack of impulse control can have on our lives and how it is affecting their classmates’ lives.

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

Here is the basis for this discussion: Researchers believe that a person’s ability to delay gratification can carry many advantages, including better scores in school, fewer behavior problems, and reduced chance to be overweight and being more successful in jobs.

This and future discussion activities include four parts:

1) A one-page article usually including a brief summary of a high-interest research study.
2) Ten true-false comprehension questions.
3) Pre-Discussion Exercise in which students read and think about several questions about their experience and opinions about the topic before discussing them in groups.
4) Small-group discussions of the article in which each student is given a paper with different content/personal experience questions in the form of Student A, B or C.

Bonus writing activity. Included in the handout is a final writing activity to give students practice with paraphrasing and writing a reflection.

About Discussion Activity Activity 8: Impulse Control: Don’t Look at Social Media while Studying

Here is an excerpt from the article

2 The researcher, Prof. Shaomin Li, thinks that this parking behavior can tell us something interesting about the people in different countries.  He studied parking habits in Brazil, China, India, Russia and the United States, and he found that there is higher economic growth in the countries in which drivers back in than those in which drivers park head in.

 3 He believes that it is connected to the ability to delay gratification.  Delayed gratification means that someone is willing to do something difficult first in order to get a bigger reward later. For example, let’s say you have an important exam tomorrow, but you also want to watch a movie.  You could watch the move now, or you could practice delayed gratification by studying now and get a big reward of passing your exam.  Then, tomorrow you can watch the movie.

Here are some of the personal experience discussion questions that students will discuss.

Pre-discussion Exercise 2

Think about these discussion questions.  You don’t have to write anything.

  1. Do you tend to park your car head in or do you back in?
  2. Do you think people in your country tend to park their cars head in or do they back in?
  3. If you were in this experiment when you were four years old, do you think you could wait to get the two pieces of candy?
  4. Recently, when you study, can you stay focused, or do you often stop to check your phone or to do something else?
  5. Look at the box below with the example of trouble controlling impulses.  Tell us about the ones that you have trouble controlling your impulse with or other ones you have.

Examples of things which people have trouble controlling their impulses about:

  • gambling
  • drinking alcohol
  • shopping
  • checking their phone
  • eating certain foods
  • watching TV
  • driving fast
  • staying up late at night
  • yelling at people when you are angry
  • spending too much time on the internet/computer gameDo you know anyone who has weak impulse control?

6. Do you do anything special to help you control yourself when you feel an impulse?

7. If you need to study, but your friends want to do something, is it difficult for you to tell them that you can’t do it with them?

8. What is something that you recently bought online?

9. Is it sometimes difficult for you control your impulse to buy something online?

10. Are you sometimes worried about your impulse control?

11. In general, are you optimistic about your future?

Here is the link to the complete activity: Discussion Delayed gratification Article and Exercises

To make group discussion most successful, see these postings for activities

Conversation magic: Two most important conversation techniques (Part 1)
Conversation magic: Two most important techniques. (Part 2)
Discussion Technique to Get Quiet Students Involved (Part 1)
Discussion Technique to Get Quiet Students Involved (Part 2)

For a reading unit about impulse control, see  2nd Free ESL Reading. The Candy Test: Controlling Impulses 

David Kehe

*About the free download materials. During my 40 years of teaching ESL, I have had many colleagues who were very generous with their time, advice and materials. These downloads are my way of paying it forward.

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