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SMALL GROUP LEARNING OBJECTIVES After the Small Group Learning discussion, the students should be able to: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Outline SMALL GROUP I. II. Definition Characteristics of Small Group to be a functional unit. Define Small Group Learning based on the definition provided. Identify the different types of activities in Small Groups, its definitions, descriptions and uses. Determine the purposes, benefits and limitations of this kind of learning strategy. Analyze the processes of group formation and development. Describe the teacher s and member s roles in small group interaction. Utilization of the strategies for promoting learning in small groups. Discuss the steps on how to conduct an effective small group discussion.

SMALL GROUP LEARNING I. II. Definition Small Group Learning strategies and their applications a. Buzz Group b. Brain Storming c. Group Discussion d. Group Tutorial e. Role Playing f. Simulation g. Cross Over groups h. Snowballing i. Nominal Group Technique j. Fishbowl k. Roundtable Discussion (RTD) l. Circular Questioning Purposes and Benefits Limitations Considerations for Successful Small Group Learning Good Group Characteristics Group Formation Group Development a. Forming b. Storming c. Forming d. Performing e. Mourning Factors that affect Group Growth







Functional Roles of Teachers a. Four Types i. Teacher ii. Synthesizer iii. Facilitator iv. Mediator b. Skills c. Effective Teacher Behaviors Functional Roles of Members a. Group Task Roles b. Group Building and Maintenance Roles c. Individual Roles Strategies for Promoting Learning in Small Group a. Designing Learning Activities for Small Groups b. Diagnosing Problems c. Kinds of Group Problems d. Types of Conflicts e. Ways of Handling Conflicts Important Group Characteristics to consider when Planning for Small Group Discussion How can you conduct an Effective Small Group Discussion?

SMALL GROUP Collection of persons in face-to-face interactions, each person aware of his own and other s membership, and each getting some satisfaction from participating in the activities taking place (Johnson and Johnson, 1975). CHARACTERISTICS OF SMALL GROUP TO BE FUNCTIONAL UNIT i. There must be interaction among members, with each member exerting mutual influence over the other ii. A group structure exists, consisting of roles, norms and intermember relations iii. There are shared goals, one of the strongest unifying factors among members, which also motivate them to reach goal achievement iv. The presence of groupness or entitativity , which refers to the extent of the group s being one unified entity v. There exists a dynamic interdependence among members, ending with the formation of groups and sequences of stability, disruption, and dissolution over time.

SMALL GROUP LEARNING Is an educational process in which group of individuals interact with one another to achieve educational objectives and to maintain itself as a group. Students are active participants of the learning process. As a learning strategy, small group learning provides students opportunities to take responsibility for their own learning, to ask questions, get feedback, share experiences, observation and insights.

SMALL GROUP LEARNING STRATEGIES AND THEIR APPLICATIONS 1. BUZZ GROUP - A sub-group or 2 to 6 members discuss an issue or a problem for a short period of time.

Uses: creative thinking, sharing ideas and experiences. Usually utilized with larger group During a large class lecture or discussion, students are broken down into pairs for a few minutes to (1) answer a question the teacher has posed, (2) discuss any difficulties in understanding the topic, or (3) speculate on what they think will happen next in class. - It is a useful means of getting students to process and use new information to solve problems. - Advantages: i. Encourages some form of participation as well as feedback ii. Allow the teacher to have an idea of what the students know and the students to check their own understanding of the topic. iii. Enables the students to express difficulties that might be too embarrassing to reveal to the whole class. - Disadvantages: i. Some dyads may discuss topics/other than that which has/have been assigned to them, thus, defeating the purpose of the activity. 2. BRAIN STORMING - Intensive discussion in which spontaneous suggestions are received uncritically. - Uses: creative thinking, problem solving, decision making - A technique for activating the students knowledge or current understanding of an issue or theme (Cotillon 2003). - Select the topic for discussion then ask students to share their ideas about the topic without going in depth or giving any criticism on each idea. - All ideas should be written down on a board or flip chart. - Free discussion by the members promotes initiative and lateral thinking - The steps involved: i. The generation of ideas ii. Clarifying the ideas iii. Evaluating or critiquing of ideas iv. Summarizing of ideas - Advantages: i. Importance given by the group to all personal contributions ii. The informal and nonintimidating environment that allows for more silent members to speak freely and participate. iii. The ownership of the created output as a group, to which all members have claimed, since all the members are contributors. - Disadvantages i. Time consuming ii. dominant members may elaborate more than the quieter ones 3. GROUP DISCUSSION - Discussion in which the topic and direction are controlled by students or members. - Uses; Understanding and sharing of critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, selfawareness, changes in attitudes and feelings. - This is similar to tutorials in that the class is divided into groups and each group is expected to discuss the subject matter. - As a facilitator, you need to probe, direct, focus and summarize or ask a member of the group to summarize what has transpired during the session. 4. GROUP TUTORIAL






Discussion in which the topic and direction are given by the tutor but content and organization are determined by the students or members. - Same as group discussion - The group discusses a material already covered in class or previously assigned. - Students can be given question to answer beforehand or asked to read certain passages. It allows them to critically probe the subject matter and clarify and expand on the given material (Tiberius 1990; Crosby 1996). - The learners are responsible for the session and the concepts to discuss, but the tutor should always be available to focus and redirect the discussion based on the work they have prepared (Jacques, 1990; Crosby, 1996). - This technique is both time consuming and labor-intensive for both tutor and students. ROLE PLAYING - Students or members are given certain roles which they act out. - Uses: empathy, self awareness, changes in attitudes and feelings. - Most popular, but not necessarily most favored, small group strategy used in education and in other disciplines. - Students assume various roles and enact a scenario. It is valuable when exploring communication issues and attitudes. - Feedback, debriefing, and de-rolling are done after the role-play so students may discuss their difficulties in assuming their roles and the issues that they saw as they portrayed the roles, and also to clarify that the roles are not the members real identity. SIMULATION - Duplication of a real situation in form of a problem and students adopt appropriated roles or statuses. - Same as role playing. CROSSOVER GROUP - Small group technique that is used to maximize crossing over of information in a large class. - It can be a good way to introduce students to each other and is a good icebreaker (Cotillon, 2003). - Break down students into smaller groups that are subsequently divided to form new groups Coding schemes can be used when regrouping members. SNOWBALLING - This is used to determine the level of the students development and understanding of a subject matter. It allows for clarification of ideas and values. - It is an extension of the buzz groups wherein pairs are given a stimulus material for discussion. - Each pair then joins with another pair (four-person group) to compare and contrast differences in their understanding. This group of four then combines with another group of four to perform a similar activity. - As the group gets bigger, a good strategy is to introduce increasingly sophisticated tasks to prevent boredom from discussion the same points repeatedly. NOMINAL GROUP TECHNIQUE - Delbecq et al. (1975) developed the nominal group technique as a consensus-planning tool that helps prioritize issues and which involves four basic phrases. - Steps: i. The group leader gives a statement of the problem or issue, usually written on a blackboard. The members then generate ideas about the issue for ten to fifteen minutes.

ii. Members share their ideas in a round-robin fashion, each written beneath the statement of the problem. iii. Each item contributed by the members is discussed, focusing more on clarifications. iv. Members rank the top five solutions they prefer and write them on index cards that are collected by the group leader. The leader averages the ranking and relays the results of the members v. (optional) is a short discussion of the vote, vi. (optional) involves a revoting if necessary. - This is a formal, systematic and democratic way of deciding on a solution to a problem or issue that may be preferred by some groups. - It also encourages participants to confront issues on a problem-solving basis rather than on personal assault, and it lets the group have a greater sense of closure and accomplishments. - Disadvantages i. The extended advance preparation it requires, which means that it cannot be a spontaneous technique ii. Its tendency to be limited to a single-purpose, single-topic meeting, making it difficult to change topics in the middle of the meeting iii. Its need for agreement from all participants to use the same structured method, which some people might resist (Dunham, 1998). 10. FISHBOWL - It may be conducted to acquire and assess group members knowledge as well as group dynamics. - It is done by arranging an inner group of students tasked to discuss an issue or topic and an outer group that would observe and listen. The latter is also expected to develop patterns or themes from the discussion and accomplish a behavior checklist to give feedback to the inner group regarding group dynamics. - The roles are later reversed. - This is useful in breaking the boredom in long lectures conducted in large classes (greater than thirty students). - The technique ensures participation of all the members. 11. ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION (RTD) - Discussion among group members held without the presence of an audience, with all the members entering into a free exchange of ideas. - It consists of a chairperson who assumes a central position and the rest as participants. The chairperson encourages participants to engage in a free interchange ideas and opinions and control the discussion such that it is geared toward the activity s goals. - In this kind of discussion, objective is set, and the end goal is to come up with the answer to the question at hand. - Advantages: good strategy to elicit the entire member s participation. It also encourages honesty, sincerity and humility among participants. - Disadvantages: time consuming 12. CIRCULAR QUESTIONING - The group members are seated in a circular arrangement, one member asks a question to the member opposite him, who, in turn, is given a time limit to answer the question. - The questioning and answering are continued in a clockwise manner until all the members have participated. A review of questions and answers is then made.

PURPOSES AND BENEFITS 1. Provides opportunity to discuss and refine their understanding of complex issues and apply new knowledge (Steinhart, 1996). 2. Allows students to negotiate meanings and express themselves in the language of the subject (Jacques, 2003). 3. Develops higher level intellectual skills like reasoning, explaining, problem solving, analyzing, critiquing (Ruddock, 1978). 4. Develops instrumental social skills like listening, presenting ideas, persuading, and working as part of a team. 5. Allows members to reflect on their attitudes and feelings. 6. Allows students to monitor their own learning and gain a degree of self-direction and independence in studies (Jacques, 2003). SOME LIMITATIONS 1. More costly manpower, resources and time 2. May be difficult to conduct technical skills, preparation 3. May be ineffective in the hands of teachers who see themselves as surveyors of information and not group facilitators (Steinhart, 1996). SOME CONSIDERATIONS FOR SUCCESSFUL SMALL GROUP LEARNING 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Appropriate size of 5 to 10 members Good Students mix Conducive physical surroundings Planning based on prerequisite competencies of students Contract on clarification and achievement of goals Variation of activities and Provision for inputs and feedbacks to facilitate learning.

Characteristics of Good Group 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Mutual understanding and acceptance among members Open communication Individual responsibility for behavior and learning Cooperation Establishment of processes of decision-making Constructive and quick confrontation and resolution of conflicts.

Variables in Group Formation 1. Environmental proximity, contact and interaction 2. Interpersonal attraction based on similarities in attitude, personality, economic and cultural qualities. Reasons for individuals in Joining a Group 1. Finds the activities attractive 2. Values the goals of the group 3. Need for affiliation makes membership rewarding

Stages of group Development 1. Forming orientation, establishing a task, discovering procedures for achieving the task, dependence on the facilitator 2. Storming period of ambiguity, bid for influence and leadership, polarization of position and opinions, value conflicts 3. Norming open exchange of views, agreement on goals and procedures, ground rules and encouraging of group cohesion. 4. Performing emergence of solutions, use of energy for effective work, reaching consensus and tallying action. 5. Mourning completion of task, summary of experiences, members disengaging from and reducing commitment to group and issues. Factors that affect Group Growth Rate 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Member s participation and influences Decision-making Expression of feelings Ground rules Behavioral functions

Functional Roles of Teachers Four Types of Roles of the Teacher 1. Teacher communicates effectively the materials to be covered, provides content and identifies areas of interest. 2. Synthesizer abstract and condenses relevant information 3. Facilitator sets climate, organizes resources, helps to elicit and clarify purposes of individuals. 4. Mediator encourages and guides groups through stages of development. Teacher s Skills 1. Handling conflicts 2. Diagnosing group problems 3. Applying intervention strategies when needed. Effective Teacher Behaviors 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Be clear Be direct Be sensitive Be positive Be a role model Be energetic Be prepared Share leadership Use sense of humor

Functional Roles of Members

1. Group Task Roles these are roles related to the task of selecting, defining and solving problem. a. Initiator proposes goals and tasks to start action within a group, develops plans on how to proceed and focuses attention to the task. b. Information Seeker asks for facts and information from other group member. c. Information Giver offers facts and information to help group discussion. d. Opinion Seeker asks for opinions, ideas and feelings to help group discussion. e. Opinion Giver offers opinion, ideas and feelings to help group discussion. f. Elaborator clarifies, interprets ideas, suggestions, clears confusions, defines necessary terms, gives examples, makes generalizations and indicates alternative and possible consequences. g. Summarizer restates suggestions after the group has discussed them, offers decisions or conclusions for the group to accept or reject. h. Evaluator examines practicality and workability of ideas, evaluates alternative solutions and applies them to the real situations to see how they will work, compares group decisions and accomplishments with group standards and goals. 2. Group Building and Maintenance Roles a. Harmonizer persuades members to analyze their differences constructively, searches for common elements in conflicts, tries to reconcile disagreement, eases tensions, and increases enjoyment of group members. b. Gate Keeper keeps communication channels open, facilitates participation of others, and suggests procedures for discussion group problems. c. Encourager offers compromise when one s own idea or status is involved in a conflict, yields status, admits errors, disciplines oneself to maintain group cohesion. d. Standard-Setter expresses group standards and goals to make members aware of direction of work and progress toward goal. e. Group Observer shares observations about the way group is working, express ideas about the progress of the group interactions among members. 3. Individual Roles a. Aggressor deflates status of other members of expressing disapproval of their values, acts on feelings by attacking group of problem or joking aggressively. b. Blocker tends to be negative and stubborn, attempts to maintain or bring back issues after group has reported or passed them. c. Self Confession uses group as audience for expressions of personal, non group-oriented feelings, insights and concerns. d. Dominator tries to assert authority or superiority, gives directions authoritatively, impose opinions, interrupts contribution of other. e. Withdrawer acts differently or passively, resorts to day dreaming, doodling, whispering to others or wandering from the subject. f. Special Interest Pleader speaks for some underdog such as the grass roots community the women labor usually disguising his own prejudices and biases in stereotypes that fit his own individual need. Designing Learning Activities for Small Groups In designing learning activities, the teacher should provide opportunities for: 1. Interpersonal interactions 2. Experiential learning 3. Reliance on participants previous experience

4. Democratic leadership Learning activities should be designed according: 1. 2. 3. 4. Time Facilities Group s level of education Opportunities for practice and transfer of learning.

Three Basic Steps in Diagnosing Problems 1. Learning to notice group difficulties 2. Forming careful diagnosis of what is blocking productivity 3. Taking appropriate action in the light of the diagnosis. Particular Skills the Facilitator must have: 1. Being sensitive to recognize problems and face them before they become big. 2. Learning to diagnose and probe problems 3. Problem solving Three Kinds of Group Problems 1. Problems of individual behavior and personal relationship such as members performing individual roles in order to fill their needs to belong, to maintain self-respect, to maintain a role to obtain recognition. 2. Problems of group functioning such as lack of understanding of goals, lack of leadership, formation of cliques or subgroups, conflicts, red tape or indecision. 3. Problems between groups due to competition or rivalry. Three Main Types of Conflicts 1. Normal Process of Conflicts which is necessary to establish roles, behavioral norms and operational norms 2. Useful conflict to stimulate members when there is lack of participation, poor organization, dominance of a group member or lack of freedom of expression due to structure and ground rules. 3. Disruptive Conflict due to uncooperative Handling Conflicts 1. Having objective observer report on the behavior of members 2. Increasing member s awareness of their individual feelings and roles. 3. The teacher/facilitator should be able to detect whether interpersonal conflicts can be resolved with time and whether group will coalease in spite of the conflict. Important Group Characteristics to Consider When Planning for a Small Group Discussion 1. TIME BOUNDARIES a. Expectation check at the start of the meeting of a newly formed group. b. Feelings/experiences about the previous meetings for an already established group. c. Agreed the time duration and agenda for succeeding meetings. 2. PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT


a. Members seated on chairs arranged equidistantly in a circle for eye contact to be established, yet still allowing space for each individual. b. Appropriate shape and size of room. 3. Group Size a. A large group provides a bigger pool of talents and experiences but with increase in size comes less chances for some members to contribute/share their ideas. b. In a smaller group, there is a greater likelihood of closer relationships, full participation of all members, and consonance of ideas and values. 4. Group Composition a. A heterogeneous group produces a bigger, broader set of ideas that can enrich the discussions. b. Avoid the assembly effect, creating cliques or smaller groups within the group which divide members especially in crucial activities like decision making. c. The most powerful factor that attracts members to group together is an individual s personal likes and dislikes (which confirms that age-old adage birds of the same feather flock together ). 5. Communication a. Non-verbal behaviors b. Development of a specialized vocabulary which reflects the closeness the members have developed with each other. c. Speaking complemented by listening d. Ground rules are laid down during the first meeting to know what is acceptable and what is not within the group. 6. Participation a. In some groups, communication is directed vertically (status hierarchy) and not horizontally, limiting the participation of those in the lower status . b. The more widespread the participation, the better is the interaction and involvement of members. c. A pattern of interaction is observed for the group to be made aware of how it is proceeding in achieving its task. 7. Cohesiveness a. A group is more cohesive if the degree of the members attraction to each other is great and a sense of team spirit has been forged among them. b. Need for willingness of members to coordinate their efforts 8. Norms a. Code of Conduct about what are acceptable behaviors 9. Structure a. Pyramiding 10. Aims and tasks a. Intrinsic and extrinsic goals b. Evaluation of tasks and what must be done in order to achieve them. WAYS TO CONDUCT AN EFFECTIVE SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION 1. Plan Ahead a. Leader should consider many uses of small groups b. Formulate clear objectives and a map for teaching session c. Determine group size and arrange physical facilities


2. Convene the group and develop a mutually acceptable agenda a. Introduce group members to each other b. Assess student needs and expectations c. Develop a group agenda 3. Create a positive atmosphere for learning a. Atmosphere of mutual trust, respect and support among members b. Non-threatening, relaxed environment oriented towards learning c. Support individual contributions, emphasize teamwork and cooperation 4. Focus the group on the task at hand a. Make sure aims are explicit and issues are clear b. Help group to identify main issues and formulate key areas for further study c. Remind group of time constraints, keep them on track 5. Find creative ways to start the dreaded discussion a. Review goals and values b. Create concrete images in minds of members c. Generate questions d. Finding illustrative quotations e. Break members into smaller groups as needed f. Generating truth statements g. Introduction methods: forced debate, role playing, non-structured scene-setting h. Ask the members How would they like it? 6. Promote individual involvement and active participation a. Question effectively b. Listen attentively c. Reinforce student contributions 7. Vary the teaching methods a. Clinical cases b. Student presentations c. Role plays and simulations d. Films and video types e. Study guides and hand-outs f. Short quizzes 8. Provide relevant information and respond appropriately a. Share personal experiences b. Provide limited but relevant information c. Build on student s responses and add insights d. Clarify confusion issues, explain controversies 9. Observe and clarify group process a. Recognize member s interactions, communication patterns and behaviors b. Acknowledge roles members have adopted and use this to accomplish task c. Identify group status and assist as needed 10. Work to overcome commonly encountered problems a. Identify problem, why it occurred and what members can do to overcome it b. Common problems unclear/unattainable goals, lack of group interaction, poor group motivation (Tiberius 1990) 11. Synthesize and summarize the group discussion a. Integrate, highlight, pull together, synthesize


b. Evaluate student s ideas and possible flaws/problems that may arise from them c. Give a final summary 12. Evaluate the session and plan for follow up a. Monitor progress, encourage constructive feedback b. Foster dialogue about group functioning and task accomplishment c. Evaluate group content, group process and tutor d. Remind members of their house keeping chores and schedule for next meeting 13. Enjoy yourself and have fun a. Show enthusiasm and interest b. Students pick up on teacher s disposition

The group should always take into consideration factors that inhibit participation (Rudduck, 1978): A. Students - Need to make a contribution - Need to understand the convention - Not knowing enough to contribute - Feeling of being assessed - Personality factors - Language/cultural problems B. Tutors/Facilitators: - Breaks the flow of discussion - Asks closed question - Ignores responses - Shows impatience - Is too formal