Introduction: What is the Interpersonal Domain?
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The interpersonal domain is one of four domains, the other three being cognitive, affective and psychomotor. This unit will introduce you to this domain by providing definitions, list the types of interpersonal skills and give you an opportunity to test your understanding.
- This unit is broken into six sections:
- An Overview
- A chart of types of interpersonal skills with examples
- Best Practices
- A Summary
- Self Assessment
Given a list of definitions, explanations and examples, the learner will be able to identify the interpersonal domain and skills.
- At the end of this lesson you should:
- Be able to define the interpersonal domain
- Be able to give examples for each category
- Identify examples belonging to the interpersonal domain
Let's get started with some of the basics.
The interpersonal domain and interpersonal skills centers around building relationships, interacting positively with others, working cooperatively in teams, having empathy for others, and being able to listen while others are speaking then subsequently presenting their own ideas respectfully and responsibly in relation to their fellow teammates, colleagues or fellow students.
A primary requirement in both the educational environment and workplace is the ability to work cooperatively/collaboratively and effectively as part of a team or group. The development and refinement of interpersonal skills can be a pivotal point for the success of individuals in these arenas.
Students should be provided the opportunity to exhibit their skills as they are developing. Positive reinforcement in a supportive setting allows the student to grow and build on the feedback given. For example, teaching a student to become an active listener benefits the student by encouraging them to concentrate on what is being said not what they have to say in rebuttal. This is an important interpersonal skill to develop in order to work effectively as part of a team or group.
Here is an activity intended to provide more information about active listening. You will want to get paper and pencil ready, and take a few notes as you listen and watch the video about active listening. The video is about 16 minutes. Click here to watch the video
Types of Interpersonal Skills 
|Seeking or giving information||Asking for or giving explanations, facts, or other supplemental information from or to other individuals||Asking a teacher or work supervisor for clarification on a project|
|Proposing||To formally put forward an idea||Suggesting or recommending a change to a project or offering a new project for consideration|
|Building and Supporting||To further a project as a member of a team; to provide positive feedback; to assist another person toward accomplishing a collective goal||Active listening during project meetings then help provide solutions to problems; providing constructive feedback|
|Shutting out or Bringing in||Excluding or involving members of a group or team in the exchange of ideas both verbal and written||Asking the members of a project to share their opinions|
|Disagreeing||Having a contradictory opinion||Discreetly and with consideration, voice a difference of opinion or variation of an idea being discussed by a group or team|
|Summarizing||To provide an abbreviated version of the original content||Taking an active listening position - restate observations or features of a project for the purposes of clarity and understanding|
Interpersonal Skills - Best Practices 
Interpersonal skills are best learned in a face-to-face situation. In addition, with the abundance of videos available on-demand the student has opportunities to view the self-help type videos as needed. However,these videos can never replace the immediate feedback and critique a student needs from a qualified instructor while trying to perform the skill. Videos can only provide one half of the equation at best.
Although as virtual environments evolve and communication through these environments improve there is still something to be learned from direct face-to-face communication that cannot be replaced at this point in time. For example, it is far easier to teach a person how to shake a hand in person than it is by watching a video, reading text, or listening to someone describe it. When the student actually practices shaking hands with an instructor the feedback is immediate. If it is done incorrectly the instructor can demonstrate how to do it correctly then have the student try to duplicate the hand shake correctly. In American culture this is a form of greeting in both casual and business settings. It is an important interpersonal skill to learn to do correctly.
Types of Assessment 
Assessing student performance of interpersonal skills and behaviors can take many forms:
- Face-to-face evaluation
- Team or group assessment by members of the group
- Recorded video of student's performance
- Recorded audio of student's performance for verbal skills
- Self-assessment; checklist
The interpersonal domain concerns itself with interpersonal relations, the way people interact with one another, the way individuals work in groups or teams. The skills are focused on individuals acquiring the ability to work effectively with each other and to be able to relate to one another.
The interpersonal skills can be broken down into six categories:
- Seeking or giving information
- Building and Supporting
- Shutting out and Bringing in
As stated by Heinich, Molenda & Russell (1989) "Most learned capabilities actually contain elements of all domains..." (p. 41) This may cause you to pause and consider how would you know which domain a skill belongs. Consider the example mentioned under the Best Practices section - hand shaking. The objective is to shake hands. It requires the student to have knowledge of the proper series of motions it takes to shake a hand (cognitive), the student will want to shake hands (affective), the student will need to physically have the capability to raise an arm, extend a hand, grasp the other individual's hand and perform the final pump to complete the hand shake (psychomotor). In the American culture this is part of a person to person relationship which is performed millions of times daily as part of doing business, greeting each other, the start and close of a meeting, or the close of an agreed upon deal by people of all ages (interpersonal). Although elements from all domains are included in this one skill the instructor would have in mind the domain where the most emphasis is placed. (Heinich et al., 1989) In this case, a hand shake falls in the interpersonal domain.
What have you learned? 
Here is a brief assessment to help you with this unit and to think about how you might design instructional material for interpersonal skills.
Interpersonal Domain Introduction Assessment
References and Resources 
- Heinich, R., Molenda, M., Russell, J.D. (1989). Instructional Media and the New Technologies of Instruction (pp 44,440). New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.
- Romiszowski, A. (1999). The Development of Physical Skills: Instruction in the Psychomotor Domain. (pp 462-463) In Reigeluth, C. M. (Ed). Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory (Vol II). Mahwah, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Links used in this lesson 
What's next? 
Move to the next lesson Topics, Issues and Resources to Spark your Imagination
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