The concept of Structured Communications was designed as a framework to increase efficiency and reduce ambiguity. It was developed by Marshall Herron in 1971, which became the Herron Scale after being found to be an effective method of ‘conflict resolution’ for married couples. Previously this approach was called ‘Discovery Learning’ in the 1960’s.
Structure Communication presents information in an orderly way that has a Start-Middle-End, or Step 1,2,3, and is often used in the presentation of information such as teaching. The approach can be criticised as it can place limits on the information and relies heavily on the person’s understanding and interpretation.
This requires people to follow a set of instructions or procedures in response to something specific happening such as Fire Alarm instructions. Most work environments even computer programs have numerous written procedures that require people to comply with. i.e. (if this, do that)
This asks a direct question and expects a direct answer. A good example is (Do you understand this explanation? (Yes / No)). A common use is at the end of a lesson where the teacher asks questions about the lesson.
Guided Instructional Communication
This is an instructional oriented approach that guides people through a set sequence of questions which are designed to provide consistency of reports such as with Assessment Forms that have standard questions to be asked in a specific order.
This widely used form of communication consists of posing questions within a specific context for the purpose of discovery. The questions tend to focus on (What – Who – How – Where – When – Why) but also includes other words such as (Did – Would – Can – Will) etc. These words are used in many different settings such as in general conversations, social occasions, education, assessment and formal investigations.
Another example of part Guided Inquiry Communication is when a selection of topics is presented and people can choose a subject they wish to explore but they are responsible to devise their own questions.
Open Inquiry or Research Communication
People are motivated by their own interests to formulate their own topics for research and design multiple open-ended questions. Afterwards, people communicate the outcome. A framework like (Identify Subject – Clarify purpose – Explore – Recognise information – Understand – Explain) can be used.
Group communication is where information about a specific subject is shared with others such as in written forms, meetings or conferences which can be referred to as Top-Down or Bottom-Up Communication.
This enables any number of people to communicate ways such as Brainstorming to (Understand, and Resolve) a problem of common interest.