Discussion and Small Group Communication

Discussion and Small Group Communication


Spring 2011
01/18/2011 - 05/15/2011

Course Information

Section 001
MW 10:30 - 11:50
CYP1 1105
Kelly Stockstad

Office Hours

No office hours have been entered for this term


For the complete course syllabus, please visit my website at 

Readings will come from our required textbook, The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication, 1st ed., by Scott A. Myers and Carolyn M. Anderson

Additional readings will come from the course packet, which is distributed at the first class meeting.


I expect you to attend class punctually and regularly.  In the business world, punctual attendance is expected; this expectation is no different in my course. I will begin the class promptly at the assigned meeting time. Many graded assignments and activities will be presented only during class meeting times.  Missing a substantial number of classes will hinder your ability to do well in the course.  In-class activities and quizzes will not be able to be made up, regardless of the circumstances.

Each student is responsible for recording his/her attendance for each class.  I will bring the attendance notebook, which will contain sign-in sheets for each student.  If you do not sign in, you will be counted absent. If you are more than 10 minutes late to class (or returning from break) or leave before class is dismissed, you are counted absent.

Your attendance will impact your final course grade in the following manner:

  • 0 absences= A bonus of three (3) percentage points added to your final course average. (Example: Your final course average turns out to be 87%, but since you’ve had perfect attendance, your bonus takes the average up to 90% and you receive an A for the course.) NOTE: If you miss class for any reason, you are not eligible for this increase.
  • 1-4 absences= No impact on your final course average.
  • 5 or more absences= A penalty of three (3) percentage points per absence assessed to your final course average. (Example: Your final course average is 81%, but since you missed six classes during the course of the semester the penalty takes your final average down to 75% and you receive a C for the course.)

Use your absences wisely!!! For regular class meetings, I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. Therefore, I do not accept doctor’s notes or any other documentation for absences.

Course Requirements

Quizzes: At various times during the semester, you will be quizzed on the course material. These quizzes may include multiple-choice, true/false, matching, and/or short answer questions. Some may be completed in groups; others may be completed individually. They may be announced or pop quizzes. The purpose of these quizzes is two-fold:  1) to help motivate you to keep up with the reading assignments, and 2) to prepare you for the exams. (worth 6% of the course grade) 

Learning Activities:  Because this class is a group communication class, your active participation in class is vital. To that end, I have made the learning activities a substantial portion of this course grade. During class meetings, we will complete in-class activities, which may include analysis of communication concepts in film or television programming.  This class meets 32 times during the semester, and you will receive 10 points per class meeting for participating actively in the in-class activities during that meeting. If you are absent from class or are not actively participating, you will lose all of the points for that day’s in-class activities. (worth 20% of the course grade) 

Observed Discussion: As part of a group, you will participate in a discussion held in front of the class. This discussion will focus on your communication skills as a group member (e.g., listening, maintaining a positive climate, managing conflict).  (worth 10% of the course grade) 

Peer Evaluation: You will critique 2-3 classmates’ performance on the Observed Discussion assignment. These peer evaluations will be calculated as a part of the Observed Discussion assignment grade, and you will receive a separate grade for the quality of your peer evaluations. (worth 4% of the course grade) 

Group Problem-Solving Discussion: This assignment demonstrates your appropriate group problem-solving skills. Together with several members of your class, you will research and conduct a problem-solving meeting. (worth 20% of the course grade) 

Group Communication Skill Check:You will work with several other members of class in a group to brainstorm possible solutions and select one solution to a problem. Your goal is to participate actively in the group process and to follow the brainstorming rules. (worth 10% of the course grade) 

Test Questions: You will create short answer/essay questions for possible inclusion on each exam. Your grade on this portion of the course depends on the quality of the questions submitted. (worth 4% of the course grade)

Exams:  There will be three (3) exams in this course. Each exam in this course will consist of two parts. One part will be a short-answer/essay section that includes questions written by class members. The other part will include multiple-choice, true/false, and/or matching questions written by the professor. Each exam will include 5 extra-credit questions written by the professor. (each exam is worth 8% of the course grade; all of the exams are worth a total of 24% of the course grade) 

  • Exam #1 covers Ch. 3, Ch. 10, Ch. 11, and Ch. 12
  • Exam  #2 covers Ch. 1, Ch. 1, Ch. 5, and Ch. 8
  • Exam  #3 covers Ch. 4, Ch. 6, Ch. 7, and Ch. 9

Course Subjects


For the complete course calendar, please visit my website at 

Week 1

Introduction to Course
Four Corners Exercise

Week 2

Begin Unit 1: The Individual as Group Member
Ch. 3: Small Group Member Communication and Personality Traits

Week 3

Ch. 10: Relational Communication among Small Group Members
Discuss active listening responses

Week 4

Ch. 11: Conflict in the Small Group

Week 5

Ch. 12: Cohesion and Climate in the Small Group
Observed Discussions

Week 6

Create short-answer/essay questions for Exam #1
Exam #1

Week 7

 Begin Unit 2: Coming Together in Groups
Ch. 1: Components of Small Group Communication
Ch. 2: The Small Group Socialization Process

Week 8

Ch. 5: Models of Small Group Development
Ch. 8: Development of Small Group Roles

Week 9

Create short-answer/essay questions for Exam #2
Exam #2

Week 10

Ch. 7: Small Group Decision-Making Procedures
Discuss the Standard Agenda and process of establishing criteria

Week 11

Ch. 6: Characteristics of Small Group Tasks
Ch. 4: Diversity among Small Group Members

Week 12

 Group Communication Skill Check Discussions

Week 13

Ch. 9: Approaches to Small Group Leadership
Create short-answer/essay questions for Exam #3

Week 14

Meeting time for group problem-solving discussions
Appendix A: Connecting Small Group Communication Concepts
Appendix B: Designing and Delivering Small Group Presentations

Week 15

 Group Problem-Solving Meetings

Week 16

Exam #3
Return and divide Group Problem-Solving Meeting grades

This schedule is subject to change with notice.

Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Understand the characteristics of competent communication in groups
  • Understand the theories that explain small group interaction
  • Distinguish small groups from teams
  • Understand the phases of small group development
  • Understand the team-building process
  • Understand how group communication climates develop
  • Recognize functional & dysfunctional group roles and improve role flexibility
  • Understand approaches to leadership
  • Practice effective leadership skills and define a personal leadership approach
  • Contribute to effective group problem-solving and decision-making
  • Identify and manage the sources and effects of power in groups
  • Practice effective conflict management techniques in group interaction
  • Practice observational skills to assess & improve communication competence
  • Evaluate group members’ interaction in a constructive and educated manner
  • Recognize the need to self-monitor personal communication competence
  • Develop skill in selecting and using a variety of communication strategies and responses based on situational contexts, goals, and human needs
  • Enhance understanding of cultural and ethnic diversity