SMALL GROUP COMMUNICATION:  "…the functioning or malfunctioning of groups is recognized increasingly as one of society's major problems (Cartwright & Zander, 1953)."

 

ComSt 317 –Summer 2005

7:30-9:30 AM, Ross Hall

 

Instructors:       Denise Vrchota                         Mark V. Redmond

Phone:              294-0501                                 294-0183

Office:             513 Ross Hall                           559 Ross Hall

email:                vrchota@iastate.edu                 mredmond@iastate.edu

Office Hours:    By appointment                        M,Tu,W, Th 2-3 and by appointment

Homepage:                                                       www.public.iastate.edu/~mredmond

 

 

Welcome to Communication Studies 317, Small Group Communication !

 

Small Group Communication will provide you with a general understanding of the complexity of membership and leadership in small groups and teams and guide you in processes that facilitate the functioning rather than malfunctioning of groups and teams.  Throughout the course, you will gain an awareness of:

 

1.      conceptual ideas about effective group/team communication processes

2.      the application of conceptual ideas about effective group discussion techniques to practical communication situations

3.      your own communication competence in group and team settings

4.      approaches to leadership of groups and teams

5.      your ability to make a difference in the effective functioning of groups and teams

 

The course is based on a number of assumptions and desired outcomes ranging from the most general assumptions about learning context to the most specifically desired outcomes of the course as they are identified in course assignments.

 

 

Assumptions about Learning

 

¨      In order to learn, you must be an active participant in this course

¨      In order to learn, you must give and receive helpful feedback on a regular basis

¨      In order to learn you must have the opportunity to apply the material considered in class to a broader spectrum

¨      In order to learn, you must view yourself as a professional participant in class and your actions must be consistent with this role

¨      In order to learn, you must have the opportunity to reflect on what you know

¨      In order to learn, you must have opportunities to stretch your thinking abilities (see Appendix A, "Stretching your Capacity to Think With Bloom's Taxonomy.")

 

What are the implications of these assumptions about learning for this class? 

What are the implications of these assumptions for your participation in class?

 

TEXT:  Lumsden, G. & Lumsden, D. (2004).  Communicating in groups and teams:  Sharing leadership (4th Ed.).  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth.

 

READINGS:  The following short articles are part of a Colloquy that appeared in journal, Human Communication Research.  It is essential that you read these for the day assigned, as they will serve as your base of knowledge for a team/group project as well as coverage on the exam.  These readings are all available on-line through the ISU library’s e-journal site.  Go to that site, under “H” and find journal title.  Click on the journal, and then find the appropriate year, date, and pages.  Copying these articles will be helpful (you could also make photocopies from a classmate’s copy).

 

Reading 1: Pavitt, C. (2003).  Why we have to be reductionists about group memory.  Human Communication Theory, 29 (4), 592-599.

Reading 2: Propp, K. M. (2003).  In search of the assembly bonus effect: Continued exploration of communication’s role in group memory.  Human Communication Theory, 29 (4), 600-606.

Reading 3: Hollingshead, A. B. & Brandon, D. P. (2003).  Human Communication Theory, 29 (4), 607-615.

Reading 4: Wittenbaum, G. M. (2003).  Putting communication into the study of group memory.  Human Communication Theory, 29 (4), 616-623.

Reading 5: Pavitt, C. (2003).  Why we still have to be reductionists about group memory.  Human Communication Theory, 29 (4), 624-629.

 

ASSIGNMENTS: 

1) Exams: Two exams, 100 points each (200 point total).  You will reflect on what you have learned through two exams; each will be a combination of multiple choice and short answer essay.  The short answer essay portion of the exams will be open book, open notes. 

 

2) Journal Article Analysis Groups/Teams (Team = 50 points; Individual = 25 points).  Each student is responsible for reading the articles related to the Colloquy on the role of communication and memory in groups.  You will be assigned a team that will also be the team used for a major group problem-solving activity.  Each team is responsible for discussing the articles and using the information included in those articles to answer the following question:  “What is the relationship among group memory, communication, and effective group decision making?”

            Each team will present it’s conclusions, specifically drawing from and citing relevant articles to support and justify those conclusions.  After completion of the four or five presentations, an open discussion will take place in which groups may challenge the conclusions of other groups.  Each team will be graded on the quality of it’s deliberation, presentation, strength of arguments & support.  Each individual will be graded on the quality of participation, preparedness, quality of thought, and demonstration of effective group skills.

 

3) Group/Team Training Project (100 points):  You will become a member of a group/team.  In your group/team you will be given a problem, the purpose of which is to provide you with an opportunity to apply, practice, reflect on, and assess the concepts we discuss in class regarding group/team membership and leadership. The assignment is presented in detail in Appendix A. 

 

4) Class Participation:  All students are expected to come to class prepared and to participate in class activities and discussions; failure to so can result in a lowering of your final grade.

 

ATTENDANCE: Your attendance will also influence your grade.  You have two absences before your final grade is influenced by your absence.  For each absence beyond two, your grade will be lowered by 2%.  If you have perfect attendance, your grade will be increased by 2%.  If you are absent once, your grade will be increased by 1%.  If you are absent twice, your grade will be unaffected.  There are no excused absences.  

 

GRADING:  A total of 375 points is possible for this course.  The following grade scale will be used.

                         A = 100%       B+ = .89          C+ = .79          D+ = .69          F = .59

                         A-=   .94         B   = .85          C   = .75          D   = .65

                                                B- =  .82          C-  = .72          D- =  .62


Class Schedule (Subject to Change)

 

DATE                           TOPIC                                                                                     READING

May    16 M              Course introduction.  Group activity.  Communication overview.                           

             17 Tu             Groups, teams, and communication.                                                                              Ch. 1

             18 W             Team membership and development.                                                                            Ch. 4

             19 Th             Communication in groups.  Verbal & nonverbal communication.                            Ch. 9

             20 F               Group communication skills.  Listening & questioning.                                            Ch. 10

 

             23 M              Teamwork responsibilities:  Sharing leadership.                                                         Ch. 2

             24 Tu             Group/Team Leadership.  Form teams.                                                                          Ch. 11

             25 W             Leadership continued.  Group/Team time.                                                                                   

             26 Th             Group/Team time.  Group/Team Presentations.  Class discussion.  Exam review.

             27 F               First hour: Exam over chapters 1, 9, 10, 2, 11, 4 & Readings.

                                   Second hour: Start up tasks.                                                                                           Ch. 3

 

             30 M              NO CLASS.  Memorial Day Weekend Holiday. 

             31 Tu             Dealing with challenging members; problem solving in groups and teams            Ch. 13; Ch. 5

June      1 W             Problem solving contd.; Decision making                                                                    Chs. 5 & 8             

               2 Th             Critical thinking in groups & teams                                                                               Ch. 6

               3 F               Creative thinking in groups & teams                                                                             Ch. 7

 

                                         6 M              Managing conflict and avoiding groupthink                                                               Ch. 12                    

               7 Tu             Group/Team work time

               8 W             Group/Team work time

               9 Th             Group/Team presentations (See Assignment)

             10 F               Final Exam (Chs. 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, presentations, activities, lectures)

 

 

Assignment

Group/Team Training: A Group/Team Project

 

To assist you in applying and practicing the concepts we discuss in class this summer, you will become a member of a group/team made up of your colleagues in ComSt 317.  Within this group/team, you will select a topic related to encouraging effective groups or teams, acquire information about this topic that would be helpful to others who wish to encourage effective groups or teams, compile a training manual and train your class colleagues so they can practice the skills you have selected. To identify the topic you will study this summer, complete this statement:

 

 “The most important element for building an effective group or team is: _________.” 

 

Your group/team will fill in the blank by selecting any topic it wishes that will help a group/team to become more effective. Each group/team must have a different topic.   Although the topic itself can be one that we study in class, you cannot simply repeat what we discussed in class.  With your group/team colleagues, you will assemble a manual that discusses methods for achieving an effective group or team through the implementation of the topic you have selected.  The manual might include “how to” advice; exercises, summaries of relevant research, etc.  You should also include a minimum of five references (do not use your text or any other texts as references).  Provide a copy of your manual for each of your classmates. Besides compiling this manual, your team will train the rest of the class to use the skills you have compiled in your manual. 

 

This assignment, both the manual and the training session, will be assessed using these criteria:

 

_____the manual demonstrates why and how the topic contributes to building an effective group or team

_____the manual includes information that can be understood and implemented by an individual who wishes to develop an effective group or team

_____the manual includes a minimum of five references for additional reading

_____the training experience provides hands on opportunities to enable participants to learn and practice using the skills related to this topic

_____the training session includes explanation or justification of the importance of the skills taught

_____the training session demonstrates the presenters are working as a group or team

_____the training session and manual are not repetitive of information discussed in class

_____the training session lasted 25-30 minutes

 

*All of the members of your group will receive the same number of points for this project.

 

Hint:  Think about the one quality you believe has been responsible for resulting in the most productive groups or teams you’ve participated on in the past.