Small Group Final Examination Study Guide

Answers must draw first from the class lecture and secondly from the text. Examples should come from your group experience and the experience of other groups.

1) Know the processes of creative and critical thinking, particularly the three key questions that should be asked in the critical thinking process. For critical thinking, one must gather information from input and evaluate the evidence and apply the information to the solution. It requires a sense of curiosity and reflection. For creative thinking, one must brainstorm ideas and continue to reframe and frame the question in order to create an unbiased judgment and to make productive decisions, and to solve problems in unconventional ways. Also, they must increase the use of their resources or find new options for a solution. The 3 questions of crit thinking include the following: 1.) why? 2.) is “a” better than “b” in respect to “c” and 3.) why should I believe that claim?

2) Be able to identify the parts of the Shannon-Weaver model and identify the five primary channels.

A- Sender / encode

B- Receiver-decode

C- Message

D- Noise

E- Feedback

3) Please be able to explain and define the process of Storming, Norming, and Performing. Additionally, be able to provide an example from your group and one other how that process worked in the wake of changing group members.

Storming = account for initial / later tension

Norming = implicit / explicit rules

Performing = “what are we doing,” or our orientation

For storming, we had to choose who was going to leave the group and we had to rebrand the group to account for a new member. For norming, the new group that I joined, revised the rules to bring new standards. This included getting to know each other outside of class so that our group cohesion was better. For performing, Taylor and Chelsi’s group made a new orientation to make the board game excellent rather than making a simple board game with a generic layout.

4) Be able to explain the process for maintaining group buy-in and cohesiveness. Be prepared to provide an example from two other groups other than yourselves how they were able to get buy-in and establish cohesion. To maintain group buy-in and cohesiveness we need the following: a historical reminder (work cooperatively), inclusion (welcome everybody), and shared experience (orientation towards a common goal). For Dunder Mifflin, their group maintained group cohesiveness by focusing on the goal and shared vision rather than accounting for the group tension because ultimately, they wanted a good grade. For the Kool Katz group, they maintained cohesion by accomplishing certain tasks and dividing up the work based on skill sets and coming together for meetings face-to-face.

5) Be able to explain the five key characteristics of teams as discussed in the class lecture. Note how those may be different from groups. Teams are specialized groups that are task-oriented and goal driven. Their characteristics include the following:

1.) Complementary interdependence – total need to achieve long term goal

2.) Diverse skill sets – need creativity and intelligence in order to get to goal

3.) Skill sets are complementary – appreciating the skills others have

4.) Group identity – create uniformity through rituals

5.) Substantial resources – the more resources, the more the group resists entropy

Small Group Final Examination (Essay Portion) 50 points

Based on the feedback from other groups and your own experience, please answer the following questions in essay format:

1) What were consistent problems (problems your group and at least one other shared) about input, structuration, and throughput? Please identify at least one problem for each of those, explain the problem in the context of the particular idea (ie In terms of input, our group felt inundated with …). Be sure to use key theories from the class in forming your answer.

Input: For the Dunder Mifflin group, their input was from a new member, and they got defensive about their game because they were under the assumption that everyone would enjoy their game. In my new group, Undecided, our input was from the lack of input from the group members. Once Maddy left the group, they felt hopeless.

Structuration:In my group, we had an explicit rule to be successful in the class and to make a decision making laissez-faire, this was based on the rules of the previous group. Within this structure, my group had problems accounting for conflict because of deadlines and there was no guidance. With this, members are expected to solve problems on their own. This downfall leads to lack of input and an emerging leader to form in order to guide the group and take responsibility for actions and decision. Our implicit rule was who was deciding what, and I emerged as a leader, I implicitly changed expectations of others in order to get them to do a job to be successful in class. Our mode of interaction was based on group text as well as holding a Google Docs page. I also made a smaller group chat with Annie, John, and I, and we ended up doing the tasks without Anna and Jessica.The Dunder Mifflin group explicitly stated that they wanted a mentorship group style, so they had a leader depending on the task given at hand. Implicitly, they had internal problems because of the personality clashes. With this, the Shannon Weaver shows that each message could be perceived as different to the receiver due to internal and external circumstances like encoding and decoding a message through noise. We can see that these problems arose with Maddy and Jess because they failed to interpret the messages.

Throughput: The only reason our group survived was because of an emergent leader, me. Every time something was due, I would go to the group chat and ask who is doing what. When they could not decide, I assigned to task to members, by accounting for their skills, especially when making the board game. This helped keep the system alive for the time being. For the Kool Kats the same thing occurred, Taylor had problems with the other members not enough, so she took the workload by writing all the essays.

Symbolic Convergence Theory:describes how groups develop through shared fantasies. This explains how the types of communication shapes a group’s identity and culture, which influence the dynamics: norme, rules, decision making.

2) What were consistent issues with brainstorming experienced within your group and one other group? Please explain the process of brainstorming and provide a brief explanation of how your group engaged in and struggled with brainstorming.The issue with brainstorming for my group and the Kool Katz was the fact that there was a sort of agreement to brainstorming. When some people agreed with one idea, none of the members challenged it. For us, it was me and John that agreed on an idea. For the Kool Katz, it was Taylor and Chelsi who agreed on the ideas while the rest of the group conformed. Our group engaged in brainstorming when I posed questions in the group chat regarding the original game. I told them that the game would work this way better and John agreed with me. With this, everyone confirmed and we gained a unanimous vote to do the game how I perceived it. The disadvantage to this was the fact that I was not willing to challenge it and made the game even better, they accepted my ideas, but their ideas were not accepted because they did not pose any new ideas.

3) What were consistent issues with leadership between your group and at least one other. Please note the leadership types (if they shifted, please note that) and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each one in the context in which you used them.Between my group, our leadership style was based on an emerging leader out of a laissez faire sytem, that being me. I assigned tasks according to skill and what needed to be done. The issues with this were the fact that people did not know the task of how I wanted it to be done because it was not high quality. Therefore, I took over some roles of others, especially when writing the essays and becoming more organized when setting deadlines. This allowed us to focus on the specific task at hand rather than a multitude of tasks and the final deadline. The Dino group had different leadership styles when the task shifted. For instance, when writing essays, one of them took over. When doing the board, another person took over and so on. This allowed this group to prosper and use their skill sets to their advantage.

4) Given all of this information, what steps would you take in future groups to minimize problems with structuring and input, and why? Please use theories of cooperation, buy-in, and/or managing group entropy as discussed in class.To minimize problems in future groups, I believe that from the bat it would be best to assign or make an established leader explicitly. With this, the leader should be implicitly encouraging and bring people to the same standard without usurping the power. This will allow tasks to be better delegated rather than figuring out things at the last minute and having an emerging leader when there is a crisis because the quality of work could be lower, that group equality will increase and power to be more evenly distributed when held at the same level. With this comes group cohesiveness, the degree to which members feel toward one another in a group. To minimize input problems, I think groups should use their resources at hand and always ask questions in order to clarify rules and such. To minimize more problems arising from incoming input to clarify what was said, as stated before because too much information can cause people to interpret it a different way. To manage entropy, groups should be on high alert because of these channels. We would need to reduce the amount of social loafing by encouraging other members and making them feel included in the brainstorming process.

Kool Katz:

  • Not much input because 1 person general ideas and everyone else conforms

  • 2 emergent leaders that do most work

Dunder Mifflin

  • Brainstorm, bounce off of each other’s ideas, implicit vs. explicit rules, change rules to conform to standards

  • Input from switching members and other members, listening in

  • Recycle box

Dino Group:

  • Claim # on essays

  • Google Docs to monitor progress

  • Depends on task when leader emerges

    • Board game

    • Essays

  • Establish easy and hard Q’s

    • Age groups

  • Input: outside sources → 5th Grade website no plagiarism, re word Q

  • Use of resources

  • Use of bright colors, use of resources

  • Big issues: running out of cards

  • Investment into making board game


  • Everyone was on board

  • Donte did not show up, no input from him

  • Strong group cohesion

  • Procrastinated a lot

  • Structuration

    • One person pulls away, others eat together for the task at hand

  • Text messages