The Experience Of Working With A Group Education Essay

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Group work is defined as a link action done by each individual in a group who synchronizes one's point of views and commitments towards the productivity and integrity of the group (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 2010). Group dynamics is an absolute essential in a group work. It is a process, influential actions, and changes that occur over a period (Forsyth, 2009). According to Forsyth (2009), group dynamic is the consequences of scientific study of nature of groups, which combines the theory and research, classic and contemporary work, psychological and sociological analysis of groups. In other words, group dynamics takes counter not just interactions between group members socially but it is concerned with getting the idea of how a group works, how it develops in organizational process, and the effects of efforts done by respective group members.

Principles of group dynamics are the norms that the group must follow to work effectively (Cartwright and Zander, 1968). These principles include, a leader usually has higher prestige, more autonomy, and greater influence on other members of the group; there would not be any barriers formed between the leader and followers; leader and followers should have strong sense of belonging to the group; the group should be attractive to its members to increase the group's influence on its members (Cartwright and Zander, 1968). There are many development models that are available and the group implies the Tuckman's Five Stage Theory of Group Development during the preparation of the task.

Tuckman's Five Stage Theory of Group Development model was developed by Bruce W. Tuckman in 1965 (Kinicki and Kreitner, 2006). The model classified the developmental stage theory into five stages, which are forming, storming, norming, performing and the last stage which is added ten years later, adjourning. In order to achieve the tasks, the group members will need to develop interdependence and teamwork skills. This model ensures group success by motivating and moulding the group members to be self regulative (Forsyth, 2009).

Orientation, dependence and testing represent the first stage of the model which is forming (Forsyth, 2009). A group will be formed and introductions are briefly discussed in this stage. The goals, individual roles and responsibilities are unclear as the processes are often ignored. Storming which represent the second stage is where group members' encounter conflict and polarization around interpersonal issues (Forsyth, 2009). The conflicts serve as resistance to group influence and task requirements in the second stage. Power struggles also may possibly occur at this stage. The third stage of the Tuckman's model is norming, where the group members' roles and responsibilities are accepted by group members. In this stage, the group leader plays an important role to motivate and strengthens the bond with group members. Resistance should be overcome in the third stage in which cohesiveness and in-group feelings will be developed, new roles are adopted, and new standards are evolved (Forsyth, 2009).

In the performing stage, the roles and rules become functional in order to achieve the goals. The group becomes strategically aware and attain flexible, functional roles which channelled into the tasks given. Structural issues encountered earlier are resolved, and it can now become supportive to the task performances. Finally, the last stage added ten years after is adjourning, where it is a contrast to the first stage, forming. In this stage, group members let go of the group structure and move on to their daily basis. Hence, this marked the end of the group works for particular task (Forsyth, 2009). This model was seen applied to the group during the preparation of the task required.

On the first discussions, the group members got to know each other in verbal communication, a less formal conversation where the group agreed onto each other and then formed a group of five as required. Miss C was selected as the group leader and the team members began discussing and sharing their ideas as mutual sharing is the basis for improving and growing individual's knowledge. Distribution of responsibility is then equally divided by Miss C among the group member according to their ability and has to be completed at a given time (Rasing, 2010). This is done to ensure good coordination within the group and to minimise unnecessary duplication of effort among group members (Brechin, Brown, and Eby, 2000).

As the group entered the second and third stage of the Tuckman's model, various conflicts arose throughout the process of undertaking the task as the group had timing problems, conflicting knowledge bases, limited time allocated, limited resources and members unable to fully understand their role play, thus, all these summed up to a higher level of stress and pressure hence, pushing everyone to the limit where the group had difficulties in completing the first task. However, when the weakness and strengths of group members were identified and balance is achieved together with the heart of understanding owing to good communication skills verbal and non-verbally, the group began to work in a more flexible and relaxed manner whereby the group functions progressively.

Discussions between the group members at the fourth stage of Tuckman's model enable the group to reach a broad consensus (Forsyth, 2009). The group members were seen cooperating with each other and during every discussion, each member of the group was actively involved and were given chances to contribute. The group meets up on regular basis so that group members can express their feelings and team issues. Every problem faced by the group members were mentioned during discussions sessions and were resolved immediately during the discussions which then created an open spirit of group cooperation. It was seen that the group members will play different roles in order to complete the task successfully in this stage.

Miss C, the group leader whose authority is accepted and acknowledged by all members possessed good behaviours and is a very responsible person. Miss C is an individual with strong personality which demonstrates willpower, dedication, boldness, self-confidence, self-discipline, self-awareness, momentum, and vitality. As described in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (2010), a leader is a person who influences or guides a group of individuals to achieve certain objectives and targets with motivation and inspiration. Miss C was very enthusiastic in completing the task and her criticisms were always constructive which then gave the group a lot of encouragement and inspirations. She was also a good listener and an ambitious leader who always looks forwards in establishing goals with high standards. Miss C also assured the function in terms of contributions of each group member make to the whole.

Leadership style is the concept and conduct of carrying out plans, giving guidelines, and inspiring people (Clark, 2010). Lewin, Lippitt, and White stated that there are various styles of leadership approach such as authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire (Zastrow, 2001). In this group, the group leader implemented the democratic style as an approach for the leadership because in every decision that she made, she will first allow the group members to discuss and allowed them to voice out their views and feelings which in turn gain the group members' respect and support. Therefore, the group feels that Miss C portrayed excellent leadership skills.

Group roles include task roles and maintenance roles. Roles are set and assigned to each group members upon task completion. Every role will have different scope of responsibilities and duties (Barnett, 2011). Each different role is decided by group members because they know themselves better than anyone else. Thus, this would enhance familiarity and cohesiveness as well as responsibility towards a specific task (Group Roles, 1997). Group members would be able to fully understand works and efforts needed to achieve the common goal. A development of the roles is needed to fulfil the needs of the group members (Barnett, 2011). Group members would be able to respond assertively upon task completion.

Task roles are the roles that ensure the accomplishment of a group's goals. (Barnett, 2011). Members play numerous roles that are inter-related to achieve the goals set at the beginning. These roles include initiator-contributor, information seeker, opinion seeker, information giver, opinion giver, elaborator, coordinator, tracker, recorder and energizer.

Initiator-contributor is defined as a person who suggests the direction of our group targets and one who proposes the solutions of the problems (Swansburg, and Swansburg, 2002). Miss C played the role as initiator-contributor as she always selects the best alternative way to solve our group's problems. Initiatives were taken by group members throughout the process of group work because new ideas are constantly formed during group meeting. In a group's lifetime, there is usually more than one initiator-contributor functioning at different times (Swansburg, and Swansburg, 2002). Group members are able to develop new ideas, recommend better procedures and suggest good ways of approaching the task. Miss C is the group leader who is not just portraying this role but also the role of orienter. Orienter is the person who directs the group towards the goals (Hobbs and Powers, 1981). This role is mainly important in directing the group towards the final solution of the problem (Hobbs and Powers, 1981). She helped our group to identify the problems we encountered and summarized the decisions. During group discussions, she ensures that we are focused on the goals to avoid group members from veering away from task requirements.

Information giver role is played by Miss A whenever analysing is needed. She will determine and select the best alternative based on the information she gathered. She always includes supported literatures besides discussing her analyses with other group members. Information giver is defined as a group member who gives information, generalization and opinions that are related to the group problems (Hobbs and Powers, 1981). Miss A is also a recorder as she notes down all the important ideas, questions and opinions during all of our group's discussions to smoothen the group work process. The recording eases the process of recalling as it gives the clear idea of the group flow and ensuring the group at the right track. A recorder is defined as a group member who writes down the group's activities, ideas, decisions and accomplishments (Swansburg, and Swansburg, 2002).

Miss J played the role as an opinion giver. Opinion giver is one who states out attitude, opinion and personal beliefs related to the group discussions (Swansburg, and Swansburg, 2002). Miss J deals with ethical manners as well as attitude problems that arose from group discussions. Whenever group members have overlapped conflicts, she would make every group members aware of the core problems. On the other hand, Miss J is also the role who adds on to a particular idea by providing examples and gives extra meanings to work out one idea upon accomplishment. She therefore expanded the group's capacity and offers justifications for the suggestions provided. She acted as an elaborator, a group member, who suggests in terms of examples, extended the meanings for the suggestions and how they are able to work (Swansburg, and Swansburg, 2002).

Coordinator clarifies and coordinates the interaction, combinations and formation of ideas, and summing up to activities organisations. (Roles In Groups, 2000). As a coordinator, Miss P summarized what needs to be accomplished by the group, to ensure that every group members perform their assigned tasks to attain the group's goal. Whilst, Miss L played the role of opinion seeker because she was inspiriting other members to voice out their opinions and helped to generate the best ideas. In order to determine the factual aspects of the ideas and opinions effectively, she was responsible to look for available researches. Opinion seeker is defined as a group member who seeks opinions that clarify the values of the group member's suggestions (Swansburg, and Swansburg, 2002). Both Miss P and Miss L played the role of energizer because they motivated and encouraged the group to a higher level of work and to achieve the goals. An energizer stimulates and motivates the group to action and raise the higher quality of the work (Swansburg, and Swansburg, 2002).

Maintenance roles help the group members to maintain their participation in the group and motivate their personal commitment (Barnett, 2011). When the tension increases, the group cohesiveness will decrease. When a task needs to be completed, tensions are developed between conflicting opinions, ideas and values (Hobbs and Powers, 1981). Maintenance roles include encourager, harmonizer, gatekeeper and compromiser.

Encourager is defined as a group member who agrees, praises and accepts others members' contribution to the group (Roles In Groups, 2000). Miss P and Miss J acted as encouragers because they are naturally extrovert hence treating other group members in a warm and friendly manner. They made our group feel appreciated. Miss A on the other hand acted as a harmoniser who reconciles the conflict and reduces the tensions between the group members during the group discussions. Harmonizer relieves tension in conflict, try to reconcile disagreements, and resolve the problems between other members (Roles In Groups, 2000).

To add on, Miss C played the role of gatekeeper because she encouraged and communicated with other group members. She regulated the flow of the communication during the group discussions. Gatekeeper attempts to maintain the communication channels opened by encouraging the participation of each member during a discussion (Barnett, 2011).

Every group members in the group played the role of compromiser. Group members compromised one another to avoid unnecessary conflicts to complete the task in the most peaceful and calm way. Role of the compromiser is one who disciplines one to maintain the group cohesion and group harmony (Roles in Groups, 2000).

Before task completion, the group is gathered for reflection session. Reflection is important for enhancing feedback interventions (Anseel, Lievens and Schollaert, 2009). The group feels that experience in the group work assignment brings some reflective outcomes as working in a group. The outcomes can be divided into advantages and disadvantages (Middlecamp, 1997). One of the advantages of working in a group is various ideas and perspective is generated as different people will have different knowledge, skills and personal contributions. Creative solutions for better outcomes can be accomplished in a group (Brodie, 2007). The efficiency of the group work task will be improved because of the different strengths contributed by the group members (Rasing, 2010).

The disadvantage that may arise prior to group work is conflict among the group members as different ideas and perceptions increases among the group members as they put in their best effort to achieve a common goal (Adeyemi, 2010). For examples, problems were raised and there are disagreements which caused dissatisfaction among group members. Without realising it, group members tend to speak and act bluntly without concerning whether it surpassed a good communication and whether it hurt the other group members' feelings.

There would be great satisfaction among the group members when interaction, enthusiasm, and energy are created among the group members (Brodie, 2007). For an example, after the completion of our assignment, a great sense of satisfaction arose among the group members owing to the contribution of time, effort and energy which have been fully utilised. Significant supports and encouragements were produced among the group members especially during tough times (Brodie, 2007). Relationships between group members were hence strengthened as the group members helped and supported each other throughout the period of task completion.

To conclude, group work build the backbone of an idealistic group and a group cannot truly work without them. The chances of a group to be successful are low if all the group members do not perform well together as one unit even though each and every one of the group member is eminent (Sugarman, 2004). An effective group work is achieved when all the group members achieve a mutual target with efforts in the group. Thus, a successful group depends solely on quintessence of the group work in a whole.

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