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Syllabus:

Basic Elements of Small Group Communication

  • Explain the importance of small group communication in today’s highly organized culture.
  • Describe the unrealistic picture of good group work that is often part of the conventional wisdom.
  • Discuss how to gain a realistic picture of group work.
  • Define basic concepts relating to small group communication.
  • Explain various kinds of meetings and discussions relating to small group communication.
  • Explain the important dimensions of small group communication. Plan a small group meeting.

The Nature of Small Group Communication

  • Compare and contrast group discussion and small group communication.
  • Compare and contrast denotative and connotative aspects of communication as they relate to small group communication.

Effective Discussional Skills

  • Develop a communicative attitude when working in a small task-oriented group.
  • Understand how to practice using language effectively in a small task-oriented group.
  • Define and understand problems with and proper uses of nonverbal communication.
  • Develop nonverbal expressiveness.
  • Know the functions of nonverbal communication in small group discussion.
  • Understand how to practice listening effectively in a small task-oriented group.

Group Dynamics

  • Understand and apply the special and general theories that relate to small group communication.
  • Communicate in a group meeting in such a way that your communication will facilitate the development of productive group norms.
  • Observe and analyze the process of role emergence in a new group.
  • Observe and analyze the status of members in an interacting group.
  • Communicate in a group meeting in such a way that your communication will facilitate the process of role emergence.

Leadership

  • Explain the trait, styles, and contextual approach to leadership.
  • Explain the leadership emergence model, including the two-phase development and the patterns of emergence.
  • Explain some lessons of leadership emergence, including the importance of group goals, the failure of a leader to emerge, negative central persons, and the effect of appointing a leader on emergence.
  • Participate in a group and communicate in such a way as to maximize your chances of emerging as group leader.
  • Use effective techniques in leading a group meeting.

Cohesiveness

  • Explain the nature and importance of cohesiveness in the study of the task-oriented small group.
  • Apply an analysis of group costs and rewards to the attraction of a group to its participants.
  • Recognize and deal with primary and secondary tensions in small group communication.
  • Develop ways to encourage and tolerate disagreements.
  • Apply specific advice to the building of the cohesiveness of a group.

Fantasy Chains and Group Culture

  • Recognize a fantasy chain when you see one taking place in a group meeting.
  • Analyze a dramatizing message, a fantasy theme, an inside cue, and a fantasy type.
  • Analyze the reasons why group members share a fantasy.
  • Analyze how the sharing of fantasies relates to the creating of a group’s cohesiveness.
  • Analyze a group’s history and its influence on cohesiveness.
  • Analyze a group’s culture in relation to its values, emotions, and motives.

Group Decision Making and Problem Solving

  • Explain the importance and the use and misuse of group meetings in contemporary society.
  • Explain the continuum of approaches to group work from the rational to the creative.
  • Effectively work in or lead a group during a creative phase.
  • Effectively work in or lead a group during a rational step-by-step analytic phase.
  • Effectively work in or lead a one-time group discussion.
  • Have a realistic picture of group work and effectively work in or lead a decision-making or problem-solving group.

Managing Group Conflict

  • Recognize and deal with competitive, mixed-motive, and cooperative small group communication contexts.
  • Recognize and deal with conflicts in the social dimension related to flight taking, smoothing, and scapegoating.
  • Be able to distinguish between conflicts that are mainly related to social problems and those mainly related to task matters.
  • Be able to distinguish flight taking into either the task or social dimension of group communication.
  • Recognize and deal with conflicts in the task dimension related to factual, policy, or value matters.

Diversity and the Small Group

  • Analyze and understand the influence of ethnicity, class, and race on small group communication in diverse contexts.
  • Analyze and understand the influence of intercultural communication on small group communication in diverse contexts.
  • Analyze and understand a feminist perspective on small group communication.
  • Analyze and understand the special theory of the focus group.
  • Analyze and understand the impact of cyberspace, communication networks, the Internet, computer-assisted group decision making, and the World Wide Web on small group communication.

Groups in Organizations

  • Examine an organization to which you belong and see how the formal structure modifies what is said in this book about small group communication.
  • Effectively communicate in a newly assumed position of formal organizational leadership.
  • Participate effectively in small groups in an organization because of your understanding of the relationship between formal leadership and naturally emergent leadership.
  • Participate effectively in the communication in an organization’s informal structure.
  • Participate in small task-oriented groups in organizational settings and communicate effectively in terms of group competition and cooperation.

Evaluating Small Group Communication

  • Participate effectively in your group’s critical evaluation of its process.
  • Effectively use both qualitative and quantitative methods of group evaluation.
  • Effectively use both participant and nonparticipant evaluation techniques.
  • Effectively follow the basic steps in evaluating small group communication.
  • Effectively apply the general criteria for evaluating decision-making and problem-solving groups.
  • Be able to effectively apply specific criteria for evaluating small group communication.