There is no set number of members for the ideal small group. Although groups vary in the diversity of their members, we can strategically choose groups that expand our diversity, or we can unintentionally end up in a diverse group. These adages speak to the potential groups have to be more productive, creative, and motivated than individuals on their own. Responders are the supporters and analysts. Start working toward completing the task while initial communication about setup, organization, and procedures are taking place. Task-oriented groups require honed problem-solving skills to accomplish goals, and the structure of these groups is more rigid than that of relational-oriented groups. The ideal number of group members is the smallest number needed to competently complete the group’s task or achieve the group’s purpose. Advantages of small groups include shared decision making, shared resources, synergy, and exposure to diversity. Small groups exhibit interdependence, meaning they share a common purpose and a common fate. The challenge is that the process can stifle free flow of ideas and inhibit realization of the purpose. When I worked in housing and residence life, I helped coordinate a “World Cup Soccer Tournament” for the international students that lived in my residence hall. It is argued that the bases of effective small group learning are discussion skills such as listening, questioning and responding. The shared identity of a group manifests in several ways. Size and structure also affect communication within a group (Ellis & Fisher, 1994). Decision making is directed at strengthening or repairing relationships rather than completing discrete tasks or debating specific ideas or courses of action. This is a major contributor to many college students’ dislike of group assignments, because they feel a loss of control and independence that they have when they complete an assignment alone. The prestige of a group can initially attract us because we want that group’s identity to “rub off” on our own identity. Many groups provide referrals to resources or offer advice. Channel of Communication 5. Make a list of some virtual groups to which you currently belong or have belonged to in the past. So, while there is no set upper limit on the number of group members, it makes sense that the number of group members should be limited to those necessary to accomplish the goal or serve the purpose of the group. Virtual groups take advantage of new technologies and meet exclusively or primarily online to achieve their purpose or goal. However, if Winston needed to coordinate with Bill or Stephanie, he would have to wait on Erik or Callie to reach that person, which could create delays. Successful teams have (Adler & Elmhorst, 2005). Too large of a group (more than 15) inhibits the group members ability to communicate with everyone else in the group. Some groups will have more control over these external factors through decision making than others. Small group communication scholars traditionally have studied secondary or task groups—those who meet to make a decision or solve a problem. In this structure, Tara is very reachable by all members of the group. Slow Paced, Front Wheel: “Everything’s okay since we have a step-by-step plan. Some groups form to meet the needs of individuals or of a particular group of people. Social loafers expect that no one will notice their behaviors or that others will pick up their slack. B., and Ulla Bunz, “The Rules of Virtual Groups: Trust, Liking, and Performance in Computer-Mediated Communication,” Journal of Communication 55, no. Individuals making such high-stakes decisions in a vacuum could have negative consequences given the lack of feedback, input, questioning, and proposals for alternatives that would come from group interaction. Even within a family, some members may not attend a reunion or get as excited about the matching t-shirts as others. 2 (2003): 163. While religious groups as a whole are too large to be considered small groups, the work that people do as a part of a religious community—as a lay leader, deacon, member of a prayer group, or committee—may have deep ties to a person’s identity. Benefits of group communication Communication is essential in human life. Groups faced with problem-solving tasks have to devise a course of action to meet a specific need. Such groups allow us opportunities to better ourselves by encouraging further development of skills or knowledge. It plays an important role in acquiring and disseminating information. Small group communication refers to interactions among three or more people who are connected through a common purpose, mutual influence, and a shared identity. The most common group is social. Communication in a group, small or big, serves many goals including collective decision-making, self-expression, increasing one’s effect, elevating one’s status and relaxation. Communication in small groups consists of three or more people who share a common goal and communicate collectively to achieve it. Discuss the characteristics of small groups. There are many types of small groups, but the most common distinction made between types of small groups is that of task-oriented and relational-oriented groups (Hargie, 2011). There are different definitions as to how many make up a small group. Internal influences such as member characteristics and external factors such as the group’s size, task, and access to resources affect a group’s structure. Since group members work together toward a common goal, shared identification with the task or group can give people with diverse backgrounds a sense of commonality that they might not have otherwise. Groups faced with discussion tasks are asked to talk through something without trying to come up with a right or wrong answer. The Importance of Good Team Communication. Because small group communication is focused on a job to be done, any failure to be focused on that purpose will block effective communication. While we are more likely to participate in secondary groups based on self-interest, our primary-group interactions are often more reciprocal or other oriented. Primary groups are long-lasting groups that are formed based on interpersonal relationships and include family and friendship groups, and secondary groups are characterized by less frequent interaction and less emotional and relational communication than in primary groups. The “Wheel” group structure in Figure 13.1 “Small Group Structures” shows an alternative organization pattern. This is the reason that one must know how to communicate well. External factors such as group size, task, and resources also affect group structure. Advantages of group communication include shared decision making, shared resources, synergy, and exposure to diversity. It consists of friends who get together and enjoy each others company. So, to answer the earlier question, we join groups because they function to help us meet instrumental, interpersonal, and identity needs. An analysis of the number of unique connections between members of small groups shows that they are deceptively complex. Just as we enter into interpersonal relationships because we like someone, we are drawn toward a group when we are attracted to it and/or its members. Virtual groups bring with them distinct advantages and disadvantages that you can read more about in the “Getting Plugged In” feature next. Virtual groups also increase the possibility for the inclusion of diverse members. During small group communication, interdependent participants analyze data, evaluate the nature of the problem, decide and provide a possible solution or procedure. Different members will also gravitate toward different roles within the group and will advocate for certain procedures and courses of action over others. Small groups are important communication units in academic, professional, civic, and personal contexts. Compare and contrast your experiences in these groups. When a group inter… Kinship networks provide important support early in life and meet physiological and safety needs, which are essential for survival. Whether a group forms to provide services to members that they couldn’t get otherwise, advocate for changes that will affect members’ lives, or provide information, many groups meet some type of instrumental need. Effective communication within a team will build a common purpose among team members that will allow them to reach their goals. 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