Curriculum Guideline

Communicating and Working Effectively in Groups

Effective Date:
Course Code
CMNS 1210
Communicating and Working Effectively in Groups
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hrs
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

This highly interactive course emphasizes learning through doing. Working individually, in partners or in small groups, students are involved in focused analysis and interpretation of interpersonal communication in group settings. A discussion-based teaching model is used with the expectation that students actively prepare for, participate in and extract meaning from class activities, case studies, simulations and role plays. Group meetings may be videotaped for analysis and evaluation of group process. Students  may conduct research with human participants as part of their course evaluation.  Instructors will ensure that such research is conducted in a manner consistent with College research ethics policies and federal policies.

Course Description
In this highly interactive course, students gain knowledge and develop skills that contribute to effective group functioning. They examine selected theory, concepts and models related to small group communication. In the roles of group member and leader they experiment with skills and structured tools for understanding and managing group dynamics and conflict.
Course Content

1. What is a group?

  • characteristics
  • kinds of groups
  • benefits and challenges of working in groups

2. What are some conceptual and theoretical approaches to the study of groups?

  • models of individual and of group communication
  • group theory:  developmental, structural, functional, and social perspectives
  • the concept of group cohesion

3. What are the elements of an effective group?

  • core conditions for effective groups
  • norms and standards
  • individual and relational satisfaction
  • clarity of goals and procedures
  • goal accomplishment
  • interaction process

4. What is the influence of self in groups?

  • member needs and motivation
  • communication style
  • preferences and challenges in group modalities
  • individual identity and the group
  • culture. personality, gender and generational differences
  • forging a group identity

5. How do groups grow and change?

  • models of development
  • group development phase and level of group functioning
  • effective communication in discrete group phases

6. What roles do people take in groups?

  • task, relational and hindering role functions and their effects
  • roles and context
  • adaptive role taking and group development

7. What kinds of verbal and non-verbal communications facilitate the work of the group?

  • communication climate in groups
  • non-verbal microskills and their effects
  • strategic verbal interactions
  • language and meaning
  • group discussion skills

8.  How can groups become more effective?

  • group guidelines and structures
  • decision-making processes
  • tools for facilitating group process and cohesion
  • problem-solving tools

9. What role does power play in group dynamics?

  • kinds of power
  • use and misuse of power in groups
  • balancing power for optimum group functioning

10. What ethical standards facilitate group work?

  • definitions and terms
  • ethical considerations in group work
  • standards for ethical group work

11. How does conflict manifest in and affect groups?

  • definitions, terms and assumptions
  • sources of conflict in groups: procedural, substantive, interpersonal
  • two-party and multi-member group conflict
  • groupthink
  • addressing conflict in groups
  • conditions for and factors influencing effective management of conflict in groups

12. How can one help a dysfunctional group?

  • creativity as a counter to groupthink
  • targetted interpersonal microskills
  • negotiating a fair agreement
  • mediating differences

13. How do leaders emerge in a group?

  • strategies for choosing a leader
  • emerging leaders
  • collaboration in leadership

14. What constitutes effective group participation and leadership?

  • traits
  • self-regulating skills
  • interpersonal, group and conflict management skills
  • vision

15. How can one become a more effective group participant and leader?

  • sources of member and leadership knowledge
  • gaining leadership skills
  • developing and articulating a vision

16. What is the role of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in groups?

  • kinds and functions of CMC
  • benefits and challenges
  • effects of CMC on group process, cohesion and products
  • recommendations and cautions

17.  What are some tools for assessing group conduct and effectiveness?

  • definitions, assumptions and terms
  • approaches to assessment of group behaviour
  • evaluation tools
  • sharing and effectively implementing results of evaluation.
Learning Outcomes

Overarching objective:

By the end of the course, successful students gain knowledge of foundational group theory and acquire interpersonal, team-work and leadership skills that allow them to communicate and work more effectively in groups.


By the end of the course, successful students are able to:

  1. discuss small group communication through a variety of theoretical and conceptual lenses
  2. describe elements of effective groups
  3. explain the influence of personality, ethnic, gender and generational differences in groups
  4. compare a variety of group development models
  5. describe different types of power and their effects on groups
  6. articulate potential and actual sources of conflicts in groups
  7. describe a variety of group assessment tools
  8. identify the characteristics and behaviour of effective group members and leaders.


By the end of the course, successful students are able to:

  1. use theory, models and basic group concepts to discuss the nature and dynamics of groups
  2. discern and respond to relational, task and individual needs in a group
  3. enact a selected role function to assist the group in accomplishing its goal
  4. employ a variety of group process skills, including interpersonal communication microskills, structured decision-making and problem-solving tools
  5. diagnose and suggest effective remedies for group dysfunction

  6. respond effectively to difference and diversity in groups
  7. demonstrate foundational skills for managing conflict in groups

  8. articulate a personal code of ethics for communicating and working in groups


By the end of the course, successful students gain appreciation for:

  1. the dynamic complexity of group communication
  2. their personal impact on group dynamics
  3. the benefits and challenges of working effectively in groups.


Means of Assessment


Assignments will vary; the following is one example of how components and marks may be allocated:

Quizzes on reading  15% 

Group experience and skills inventory


Group activity design    


Group leadership demonstration

Written assignments and reflective papers  30%
Professional conduct, participation and attendance  15%
Textbook Materials

Suggested texts:

Sample of textbooks and materials appropriate for Communications 1210 to be purchased in current edition by students:

Beebe, Stephen A. and Masterson, John T. Communication in small groups: Principles and practices. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Galanes, G. and Adamas, K. Effective group discussion: Theory and practice. Columbus, Ohio: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.


CMNS 1216 or permission of instructor.