Group Processing

Groups need to be self-reflective about the working of their own group.

  • Have explicit discussions about these skills and how to improve them.
  • Have the students write periodic journals on their group experience. This enables them to reflect on what is working well or poorly and it also provides feedback to the instructor on the performance of the group.
  • Instructors should model all these skills in every interaction with students. This is very important because students are watching you closely and will take many of their behavioral cues from what you do and not what you say they should do!
  • Ask each group to list at least three actions that helped the group be successful.
  • Ask group to list one action that would have made the group even more successful.
  • Make regular assessments of group dynamics. The group members are asked to self-assess how well the group is functioning. The instructor can also assess the working of the group.
  • Get the group to agree right at the beginning to working rules amongst themselves as to how work is to be divided, performed, shared, reported, and written.
  • Ensure that group processing times do not degenerate into gripe sessions where some members simply vent their irritations with others. This can be done by groups establishing ground rules that criticisms should not be phrased negatively but as positive suggestions. i.e., in the form of statements such as "Perhaps you might try doing it this way" instead of ‘"I wish you'd stop doing this."

Getting group processing started

In order to start the process of group processing and to increase the awareness of students of the importance of taking early steps to ensure good interactions, it is advisable for each group to have a private meeting with the instructor (lasting about 10-15 minutes) within a week or so after the groups are formed. Prior to this meeting, each member should also have read the guidelines for effective group work and have met and prepared typed consensus responses of the group to the following questions:

  • Based on your past experiences with group work, what do you think are the factors that lead to the successful functioning of a group?
  • How would you ensure that the conditions stated in response to question 1 are present in your current group?
  • Make a list of the things that an individual in a group should do in order that the group can work harmoniously and productively. You will be expected to use this list when evaluating (as a group) the contributions of each member to the group.
  • How would you deal with a group member who is behaving in a manner not beneficial to the smooth working of the group (i.e., by not attending group meetings, by being hostile to one or more members, by not doing their share of the work, not showing responsibility, etc.)?