Syllabus: Group Dynamics

Psy 457/557, Spring 2002, 2-3:20 PM Tues/Thurs, 221 McKenzie

Professor: Dr. Holly Arrow Phone: 346-1996
Office: 357 Straub Office Hours: Tues 4-5, Fri 11-12

Class page:

Blackboard conference: Psy457S02

Class notes and class data will be posted on blackboard. For help with blackboard problems, visit Knight or Science Library.


Course Description: This course has three interrelated goals:

1) acquaint you with theory and research on small groups

2) improve your skills as participant in & observer of small groups

3) develop your ability to read and interpret the primary literature


Overview of course: The course is organized into three partially overlapping phases.

In phase one, we will read two books about groups operating under extreme conditions. You will form a group in Week 2 that will last for the rest of the term. You will also develop your skills as a group observer.

In phase two, we will read the core groups text, which will acquaint you with theory and research on small groups. There will be short weekly quizzes to encourage you to keep up with the reading. This phase includes biweekly individual essays and group challenges.

In phase three, you will complete a research paper using data collected by the class. NOTE: Grad students will have different assignments replacing the essays, the research report, and the group challenges, but will complete the quizzes. Details below.

1. Participation

Attendance is required. If you can't attend class faithfully, don't take this course .

You will be working in small groups each week, and group members will rate one another's participation at the end of the course. In week 2, students will form permanent groups. If a group member is chronically absent, does not come prepared, or behaves badly, groups may petition to drop the member in week 4. Dropped members may switch groups or complete the course individually.

All students must also take part in the data collection for the research reports, and submit their data in complete, correct form and on time to receive full credit. All data will be rendered anonymous by replacing names with codes. Ratings of group members will be averaged before posting, so that it will be impossible to track ratings back to individuals.

1b. Grad students: After moving around to different small groups during the early rotations, you will work together in a separate group. You will not submit data on one another, but will instead make observations of the other groups. You will also assist with the design and evaluation of the group challenges. This will involve a few outside meetings.

2. Readings

The three required books are D. R. Forsyth, Group dynamics (2d ed.), A. Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton's incredible voyage, and J. Krakauer, Into thin air. Strunk & White's The elements of style (any edition)is strongly recommended as a guide to clear writing.

3. Quizzes & Group Challenges

Quizzes will be completed individually. They will cover material from the texts and lectures.

Group challenges will be completed in class by the groups. Topics will be announced on Blackboard. 3b. Grad students will assist in designing and evaluating the group challenges.

4. Individual essays (undergrads only)

Essays are limited to 200 words each, and must be typed on a single page. To be deemed acceptable, they must fulfill the assignment, be carefully reasoned, clearly written, and grammatically correct (follow S&W guidelines!). Every sentence should contain specific, meaningful information that is clearly related to the assignment, and all opinions should be directly supported with evidence from the readings (cite author, date, page number).

4b. Grad students will complete a literature review of an area of small groups research. Based on your reading of at least 10 different articles or book chapters published in the past ten years, identify (1) the different approaches used to study the topic; (2) the types of groups studied (3) the primary findings; and (4) an important question not been addressed by the literature you read. Limit 10 page, including title and reference list. Due May 7 in class.

5. Research report

This formal paper will analyze data collected in and by the class about the class groups. This paper should be 7-10 pp. double-spaced and follow APA format.

The report should start (1) with a title page and (2) an abstract of no more than 200 words. The body of the paper should (3) Introduce the study, drawing on relevant literature; (4) describe the research procedure and participants (methods section); (5) present your findings (results section); (6) connect the findings to the literature on small groups and discuss implications (discussion section); and (7) note the limitations of the study, including at least one recommendation for improvement in design or execution. The paper should (8) have at least one figure, (9) all references cited (there should be at least 5) should be presented at the end of the paper. (10) Describe the division of labor between the two authors in a note at the end of the text.

This assignment is to be completed in pairs. The division of labor must be negotiated early. Students who want to work individually must get Holly's permission.

*** Final reports NOT ACCEPTED if early draft has not been turned in for comments.****

5b. Grad students will complete a case study or research proposal instead of research report Case study option: Write a case study based on your observations of a small group (size 3-25) and/or interviews with its members (Note: this should not be one of the class groups.) Be sure to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the group and analyze what you see as the contributing factors to these strengths and weaknesses. Consider composition, structure, task, context, and group development. Make one specific recommendation for improving the functioning of the group. The paper should have 4 sections: Intro, description, analysis, and recommendation.

Research proposal: Write a research proposal for a study of small groups. Assume you have unlimited funds. Briefly summarize the theory relevant to your topic, identify the research question you plan to address, present your hypotheses and your research design. Discuss how you would interpret results that are contrary to your hypotheses.

Either option: Limit 8 pages double-spaced, including title page.


Elements Points Course grades based on percentage of total points earned
Participation, including

Data collection

40 A+ 97-100 C 73-76.9
A 93-96.9 C- 70-72.9
Quizzes 50 A- 90-92.9 D+ 67-69.9
Research report 50 B+ 87-89.9 D 63-66.9
Essays 30 B 83-86.9 D- 60-62.9
Group challenges 30 B- 80-82.9 N < 70
TOTAL points 200 C+ 77-79.9 P 70

Late penalties: Five-point penalty for late papers, unless you have prior approval based of some catastrophic life event. No research reports accepted after 4 PM Friday June 7. Late essays not accepted unless you have prior approval, and will not be eligible for revision.


Your Group Skills (+2 very strong +1 strong 0 okay -1 weak - 2 very weak) Wk 1 Wk 10

1. Communicate ideas effectively (self-expression) ___ ___

2. Listen to and understand others (empathy, perspective taking) ___ ___

3. Help others understand themselves with constructive feedback (guide) ___ ___

4. Seek feedback from others to know yourself better (personal growth) ___ ___

5. Establish rapport with others (make connections) ___ ___

6. Monitor and manage your own emotions (self-management) ___ ___

7. Organize people to achieve tasks (task leader) ___ ___

8. Identify and fill needed roles in the group (social flexibility) ___ ___

9. Promote group morale and cohesion (socio-emotional leader) ___ ___

10. Resolve conflicts and negotiate agreements (mediator) ___ ___

11. Analyze structural causes of group dynamics (social analysis) ___ ___

Your own goals for this class _______________________________________________________

Week 5 self-assessment of progress ___________________________________________________

Readings and Assignments

Week One Topic / Focus Reading Other Events
Tues April 2 Endurance Lansing, Parts I-III

Forsyth Ch. 1

First temporary group
Thur April 4 Post message on Blackboard
Week Two
Tues April 9 Endurance,


Lansing, rest of book

Forsyth Ch. 2, 12

Form permanent groups
Thur April 11 Group diary due
Week Three
Tues April 16 Into Thin Air,


All of Krakauer

Forsyth Ch 5

Quiz #1. SYMLOG1 data due
Thurs April 18 Essay A due. Group challenge A
Week Four
Tues April 23 Membership,

Cohesion, Development

Forsyth Chs 3, 4, 6 Quiz #2. Structure1 data due
Thurs April 25 Plan for research report (RR)
Week Five
Tues April 30 Performance & Decision Making Forsyth Chs 10 & 11

Quiz #3.
Thurs May 2 Essay B due. Group challenge B
Week Six
Tues May 7 Conflict &

Intergroup Relations

Forsyth Chs 9 & 13 Quiz #4. SYMLOG2 data due
Thurs May 9 *Revised RR plan, biblio
Week Seven
Tues May 14 Influence &


Forsyth Chs 7 & 15

Quiz #5. Structure2 data due
Thurs May 16 Essay C due. Group challenge C
Week Eight
Tues May 21 Power &


Forsyth Chs 8 & 14

Quiz #6
Thurs May 23 *Full draft research report
Week Nine
Tues May 28 Research Reports No new reading Drafts returned
Thurs May 30 Make-up Essays
Week Ten
Tues June 4 Research Reports No new reading Evals; *Research reports due
Thurs June 6 Presentation of research
Optional Final: Tues June 11, 1-3 50 pts. Will be averaged with Quiz scores if taken