Michael J. NaumesMichael J. Naumes, Ph.D.

I. Textbook:

Johnson, D.W. and Johnson, F.P. (2000). Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills. (7th ed). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Recommended Resources:

Napier, R.W. and Gershenfeld, M.K. (1999). Groups: Theory and Experience (6th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Forsyth, D.R. (1999). Group Dynamics. (3rd ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co.

II. Course Overview:

This course is designed to give you the opportunity to study groups and group processes in a practical way. This should help you understand how you and others behave in groups and how to maximize the potential contribution of any group. During each class, specific skills pertinent to effective group functioning will be covered and each class will have exercises designed to give you practice with the skills involved. You will have opportunities to experience your own small group behavior and to experiment with alternative behaviors and styles as you deem appropriate.

The class itself will be organized into small groups which will frequently function independently of each other. The task for each small group session will be explained at the beginning of the class. Toward the end of each class, the effectiveness of the exercise and the group dynamics will be discussed and processed. This class may not be audited.

"Group Dynamics is much like aerobics; how much you gain depends on how much effort you put into it."

--- Michael Naumes

III. Course Goals:

To provide an overview of the field of group dynamics as an introduction to the formal study of social and group processes.

To develop your ability to understand and integrate various properties of groups into meaningful theoretical framework.

To increase your ability to apply social psychological principles to real-life situations (especially face-to-face groups).

To develop your ability to objectively analyze individual and group behavior (e.g., through process observations).

To further develop the awareness of your personal relationships to groups.

"When the goal is for people to interact and/or get closer together, remove as much as possible, except the people." -- Unknown

IV. Course Organization:

Attendance: I assume that you are willing to actively learn about the dynamics of groups. Since this is an experiential class, attendance and active participation (including reading assignments on time) are very important. Points will be given for attendance and participation (see point schedule). If you miss three classes, you will be dropped from the class.

The following behaviors, attitudes and "efforts toward the group" are valued by me and I will look for active attempts by each of you to carry them out:


An indication that outside work has been done and that you have thought through the issues related to the material covered.

Risk Taking:

Attempts to share feelings, ideas and concepts in an open manner. A positive attitude toward testing your limits.


Mobilization and direction of energy toward the assignments. Always asking, "have I done my best?"

Oral Participation:

Active classroom involvement in the form of comments, questions and discussion; sharing of one's knowledge, feelings, experience and expertise.

Collaboration: Exchange and use of the expertise and knowledge of faculty and students to enhance learning and understanding. Giving of and asking for help as appropriate.

"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand." -- Confucius

Tests: You will be tested over both units of material. Since the class is process oriented, you will need to study the text and learn the content on your own (or in study groups). The tests will be a combination of objective questions and essay questions to cover the conceptual material. I reserve the right to enact a late penalty for make-up exams.

Trainer For The Day: I believe the best way to learn about group processes is to experience them directly. By giving you the opportunity to conduct and monitor group activities, hopefully, you will gain a better insight into how groups function and will experience the impact of your intervention upon a group. Thus, in a latter part of the course, you and your team will be responsible for presenting a lecturette on a topic (30 minutes or less), developing and conducting a class exercise (30 minutes or more), leading a class discussion (30 minutes or more), and receiving feedback on your efforts for one class (10 minutes at end of class). Your entire group will need to meet with me outside of class after your presentation. More information on this will follow (see Study Guide p 22a). Previous classes have indicated that this was one of the most valuable parts of the course. Hopefully, it will be for you also. Your group should write a paper which summarizes a) how you followed the basic procedures for structuring discussion groups (especially focus on your goals and objectives) b) how you planned to process the information generated by the class exercise(s) with the class itself, and c) your evaluation of how well you did (see pp. 62-68 and 475-483 J & J 6th ed.) This is due two classes after you conduct your Trainer for the Day.

Process Observations: Find an ongoing group and obtain permission to observe them. Offer to give them feedback and then prepare a report. These papers should be descriptive observations of how this group functioned and what happened to contribute to that level of functioning. Since psychology is the study of behavior, these process observations should describe the behavior (or process) of the group members. A good observer will be non-judgmental, specific, and objective in presenting this data. This information can be very important feedback for the group and the skill of reporting this information is one you will be able to use in a variety of group situations. You need to take responsibility for sharing this information with your group.

Some suggestions for writing these reports are: Think of them as lab reports; include several examples to back up your statements; be like a reporter writing the front page news (so be objective and stick to the facts); do not write an editorial-type paper which merely gives your opinions and little evidence to support them; follow the rules for good feedback--a handout which will soon follow. Further materials and training in preparation for the observations will be part of the course. Also, see pp. 61-64 in the text for additional information.

I will tell you, in advance, which classes to write an observation paper for. You will write one observation paper. These papers may need to be more than 3-4 double-spaced pages long. Late assignments may be penalized or not accepted. Submit your typed paper with attached observation forms within one week of the observation.

"Groups are like snowflakes -- no two are ever alike." --- Clay Dumont

Journal: Everyone should make journal entries of at least two pages as soon as possible after the group exercises. This daily log will help you in integrating the events in the course and also in writing the PAAs. Describe specific examples of who talked, interrupted, led, and other behaviors and then give your personal reactions, observations, interpretations of events, analysis of individual group phenomena, or other aspects of group situations. You are encouraged to make deductions and apply them to everyday life. The journal is worth 25 points. Please follow a three-part format answering a) What happened (describe the events, not the exercise and significant interactions)? b) What were the effects on the group (both short-and long-term)? c) What were the effects on you (describe your subjective perspective and the personal impact on you)? The journal entries could also follow the format of the concrete experience and reflective observation sections of the PAAs described below.

"Too many of us hear without heeding, read without responding, confess without changing, profess without practicing, worship without witnessing and seek without sharing." --- William A. Ward

V. Personal Application Assignment:

In addition, I would like you to write three Personal Application Assignments (PAA). These papers should combine the best elements of term papers and journals. We are covering several major topics and I would like you to submit three papers -- one from each half of the course and one based on another important topic.


Kolb has proposed a four stage learning format: 1) beginning with a concrete experience, 2) leading to reflective observation about the experience, 3) followed by abstract conceptualization where models, paradigms, strategies, and metaphors are applied to the results of the experience, and 4) putting the concepts into practice by active experimentation which generates a new concrete experience. The Personal Application Assignment (PAA) should be a written paper which reflects each of the four stages. Twenty points will be given for the total PAA. Four points will be awarded for each of the four elements in the learning style model and four points will be awarded for the integration, synthesis and general quality of the PAA. These should be a maximum of five or six pages (or approximately 1-1 1/2 pages for each section for grads), and typed, due no later than one week after the class experience and base it on a class exercise.

To discuss the concrete experience, briefly describe what happened in the group experience. Your feelings, thoughts, and perceptions during the experience are important parts of the experience, so describe the objective and subjective aspects of the event. The objective component is the basic facts of the experience without an attempt to analyze the content. But, a simple description of the objective events which occurred by themselves is NOT sufficient. I would also like a description of the subjective aspect of your "here-and-now" personal experience of the event. You might replay the experience in your mind and then report on what you felt, thought, heard and saw others doing, etc.

To describe your reflective observation, ask yourself: What did I observe in the experience and what possible meanings could these observations have? Try to gather as many observations as possible by observing the experience from different points of view. In this stage work on "perspective taking". Try to look at the experience and describe it from different perspectives. For example, answer one or two of these questions: how did others view the situation and what did it mean to them? What would an "objective" observer have seen and heard? What would the situation have meant to you when you were younger? To your mother and father? Reflect on these observations to discover the personal meaning that the situation had for you and how this helps you understand your actions in groups. You might discuss the experience with others to gain their views. Also "unhook" yourself from the experience and meditate about it in a relaxed atmosphere until their personal meaning comes clear to you.

To demonstrate abstract conceptualization, relate the theories from the textbook and lectures to what you experienced. By showing your ability to understand conceptually abstract material through your experiences, you will refine your model of people and groups. It is important that you make several references and not limit your conceptualization to one or two sources. This is also the place to insert your own personally developed theories and/or models if they assist you in making sense of the experience. Tie in several specific concepts or theories to your experience and give specific details of how you see the theory providing insights into your experience. Explain whether the experience supports or refutes the theory.

For active experimentation answer the questions: What future action might you consider which will make you more effective in future groups experiences like the one reported? How will you behave in the future as a result of your experience? How can you test out your concepts developed in the preceding phase? Future actions must be based on the experience reported in concrete experience. Develop detailed plans about how you see your action ideas being carried out. Be specific and thorough and present from one to three future actions which are well thought out and give examples of what you plan to do and how you will carry it out.

Integration and synthesis refers to a well written PAA with a focal issue and a story line which carries through each section of the paper. It is probably best to integrate the four learning perspectives and present your four stage learning process by deciding on one or two main points and making smooth transitions between sections. Hopefully, the learning being described in the PAA is personal, related to groups, important to you and brings the paper to life. Include references at the end.

VI. Points Chart

I really believe that learning can be fun and I have tried to design a course which will give you a lasting educational experience. So that you may plan your efforts, on the following page are two charts indicating how your final grade will be computed:

Activity Points

Attendance and effort toward the group (6 points per class)


Tests (2)


Trainer for the Day


Journal (2 points per day + points for effort)


Observation paper (1)


PAA's (3 - Ch 1-6, Ch 7-14, other topic)


Total Possible


It is the policy of Southern Oregon University that discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital status, or disability shall be prohibited. Neither will the University tolerate sexual misconduct or sexual harassment by students, faculty, or staff. If you feel the University policies regarding affirmative action or sexual misconduct have been violated, you are encouraged to contact the Dean of Student Affairs Office, 552-6221.

Letter grades (i.e., A-F) will be given if you have completed most or all of the work or if you have missed only some classes or some paperwork. I do not believe in Incompletes, so submit your work on time. A "WP" or "WF" will be given, normally, if you have withdrawn from the course. The approximate grade schedule will be:





92 - 100%



90 - 91%



88 - 89%



82 - 87%



80 - 81%



78 - 79%



72 - 77%



70 - 71%



68 - 69%



62 - 67%



60 - 61%


"There are no mistakes." --- Sigmund Freud

Finally, there is a quote which describes my philosophy of education, especially for this course: "Give me a fish and I will eat for today; teach me to fish and I will eat for the rest of my life." -- Ancient Proverb