Course Syllabus

Fayetteville State University

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Performing and Fine Arts



Semester: Fall Year: 2004

Course No.: SPEE 321-01 Course Name: Group Discussion Credit Hrs: 3

Day/Time Class Meets: TR 3:30-4:50 Room, Bldg.: RB 125

Instructor: Dr. Eugenie Almeida

Office Location: Telecommunications 206 Office Phone: 672- 2031

Office Hours: M 10-2, WF 12-2 Email:




Group Discussion provides training and practice in the effective exchange of opinions on selected topics, with emphasis on studying group interaction during the process of discussion and observing the effects of parliamentary procedures on the conduct of groups in discussion. Prerequisite: SPEE 200 or consent of the instructor.



Brilhart, J. K., Galanes, G. J. , Adams, K. (2000). Effective Group Discussion: Theory and Practice. 10th Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.



At the end of the course, the facilitator of learning will:


(1) Demonstrate an understanding of the process of small group communication and small group discussion including:

    a) the small group as a system

    b) verbal and nonverbal communication within small groups

    c) the effects of culture on small group communication

    d) group norms and roles

    e) factors that build group cohesiveness

    f) leadership within the small group

(2) Demonstrate knowledge of small group communication research focusing on:

    a) participant-observation research

    b) survey and interview research

    c) field experiments

(3) Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental principles of effective communication within the small group

(4) The student will acquire facility in small group discussion techniques.


Assessment:(1) Use a variety of formal and informal assessments aimed at meeting program goals and positive student learning including exams, class discussion, small group discussion, peer review, and group presentations.


Reflection:(1) Reflect on and evaluate teaching and learning through class discussion, small group discussion, teamwork and teacher-student conference.



(1) Apply new technologies to teaching, learning and research including:

    a) using the Web to enhance library searches

    b) setting up e-groups to conduct small group discussions


Diversity:(1) Understand the differences that exist among people and their cultures and the ways in which these differences affect individualsí view of the world, their values, and their interpretations of the events of their lives.



(1) Collaborate with colleagues, parents, local schools, agencies and the community to support learning and achievement for all students.

(2) Collaborate in small group task team workshop.



Knowledge INTASC #1 The teacher understands the major concepts, assumptions, debates, processes of inquiry and ways of knowing that are central to the discipline he or she teaches.

Reflection INTASC #9.4 The teacher is committed to reflection, assessment, and learning as an ongoing process.

Technology INTASC #6.13 NCDPI #6.4The teacher knows how to use a variety of media communication tools, including audiovisual aids and computers, to enrich learning opportunities.

Diversity INTASC #3 The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.

Collaboration INTASC #10.12, NCDPI #10

The teacher establishes respectful and productive relationships with diverse home and community situations, and seeks to develop cooperative partnerships in support of learning and well being.




Written Assignments 150 points

                    Group Research Project 200 points

                                        Group Paper 125 points

                                Panel Presentation 75 points

                    Class Participation 100 points

                                     Midterm 100 points

Total Points 550 points





Date Wk Topic Assignment

8/17 1 Overview of course; basic concepts Ch. 1

8/19 1 Systems Theory Ch. 2


8/24 2 Systems theory Ch. 2

8/26 2 Systems theory Ch. 2


8/31 3 Communication Processes Chs. 3&4

9/1 3 Communication Processes Chs. 3&4

Paper #1 due


9/7 4 Intercultural Communication in Groups Ch. 5

9/9 4 Small Group Development Ch. 6


9/14 5 Individual & Group Norms & Roles Ch. 7

9/16 5 Group cohesiveness Ch. 8

Paper # 2 due


9/21 6 Group Leadership Ch. 9

9/23 6 Group Leadership Ch. 10


9/28 7 Managing Group Conflict Ch. 13

9/30 7 Managing Group conflict Ch. 13


10/5 8 Problem-Solving Discussion Take-home Midterm due

10/7 8 Problem-Solving Discussion Ch. 11 & 14


10/12 9 FALL BREAK

10/14 9 Problem-Solving Discussion Ch. 11& 14


10/19 10

10/21 10 Decision-Making in Small Groups Ch. 12

Paper #3 Due


10/26 11 Observing Group Discussions Ch. 15

10/28 11 Instructions for Group Research Project Appendix A & B

Form research groups


11/2 12 Group Research Project

11/4 12 Group Research Project


11/9 13 Group Research Project

11/11 13 Group Research Project


11/16 14 Panel Presentations

11/18 14 Panel Presentations


11/23 15 Panel Presentations



11/30 16 Panel Presentations

12/2 16 Last Day of Class Group Paper Due




Written Assignments (150 points)

Three 1-2 page papers will be assigned on different topics during the class. Each is worth 50 points.

Take-home Midterm Exam (100 points)

Prepared questions will be given to students at least three days in advance of due date on chapters of the text already covered in class. Students should write thoroughly on each question selected to answer and should cite the text where necessary.

Group Research Project (200 points)

Students will form groups of 3 or more members and design a small group research project to be written up in the form of a group paper and to be presented to the class in a panel presentation.

The purpose of the research project is to provide students with a task that requires a good deal of group discussion and to further students knowledge of small group communication by focusing the research project on a small group communication topic. Methods for doing the research project may vary: library research may be selected as the groupís method for investigating a topic of importance in small group communication; the group may design a survey and administer the survey to members of small groups, analyze the results and draw conclusions about small group processes based on their research; members may choose an observational study wherein members observe a small group in discussion over a period of time and draw conclusions about the functioning of this small group; members may combine methods, for example, observation and interviews, library research and observation. Chapter 15 contains information about observational small group research. Appendix B contains general information about conducting a research project.

A group paper is required to summarize the groupís research. Each group member should contribute to the group paper. Group Papers should contain the following parts:

1) a title page listing names of group members

2) an introduction wherein the rationale and purpose of the study is presented

3) method selected and implemented to conduct the project

4) conclusions of the study

5) bibliography of literature used, interviews conducted.

6) appendix in which sample questionnaires, interview sheets, etc can be placed.

Students should also design a panel presentation in which they present the results of their research study to the class. Panel presentations should be about 30 minutes so that each panel member can speak about the project to the audience. Appendix A contains instructions on how to design a panel presentation.

The group paper should be finished and handed in by the last day of class, August 2. It should be typed and well-written.

Panel presentations are scheduled to occur during the last week of class.


Class Participation (100 points)

Good class participation means good attendance, contributions to class discussion, effective listening behavior. All students are required to participate in in-class exercises and guided discussion groups. Students are allowed two absences after which four points will be deducted from their final grade for each absence over the limit.



A combination of learning techniques are used to involve students in the course: a lecture discussion approach which is less formal than a lecture approach; and an experiential approach wherein the students discover, through experience, fundamental principles of effective communication.



Cathcart, L. A., Samovar, L. A. & Henman, L. D. (Eds.). Small Group Communication: A Reader, 7th edition. Dubuque, IA: Brown & Benchmark Publishers, 1996.

Ellis, D. & Fisher, B. A. Small Group Decision Making: Communication and the Group Process. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994.

Frey, Lawrence R. (Ed.) New Directions in Group Communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002.

Frey, Lawrence R. (Ed.) Handbook of Group Communication Theory and Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1999.

Harris, T. E. & Sherblom, J. C. Small Group and Team Communication. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1999.

Hersey, P. & Blanchard, K. Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources, 7th Edition. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1996.

Janis, I. L. Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes, 2nd Edition. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1983.

Hirokawa, R. Y. & Poole, M. S. (Eds.). Communication and Group Decision Making, 2nd Edition.

Thousand Oaks, CA: ,Sage, 1996.

Larson, C. E. & LaFasto, F. M. J. Teamwork What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong. Newbury park, CA: Sage Publications, 1989.

Littlejohn, S. W. Theories of Human Communication. Fifth Edition. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth

Pub. Co., 1996.

Lustig, M. W. & Koester, J. Interpersonal competence: Interpersonal Communication across Cultures. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

Lumsden, G & Lumsden, D. Communicating in Groups and Teams: Sharing Leadership. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1993.

Martin, J. N., Nakayama, T. K. & Flores, L. A. (Eds.). Readings in Intercultural Communication: Experiences and Contexts. 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Stewart, J. Bridges, Not Walls: A Book About Interpersonal Communication. New York:

McGraw-Hill, 2001.

Tropman, J. E. Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions. Thousand Oaks,CA: Sage Publications, 1996.