Usually we teach groups of people, whether it be online or in the classroom. So doesn’t it make sense that we have at least a basic understanding of what a group is and how it works? A group is defined as two or more individuals who are members of the same social category. Group dynamics describes processes by which groups and individuals act and react to changing circumstances. Group dynamics is too large a topic to cover in this blog, so I am just going to focus on the four stages of group formation and how this relates to training.
Every group goes through four stages of development:
- Forming – Groups get together
- Storming – Groups have conflicts
- Norming – Groups create rules and structure
- Performing – Groups produce results
So what do these stages have to do with training? Specifically, we need to get our groups to the performing stage as quickly as possible in order for them to be productive in the classroom and for learning to occur! We need to promote positive group dynamics in both our large groups (i.e. the entire class) and with our small groups (i.e. during small group exercises).
How do we accomplish this goal? Here are five instructional techniques to get your groups to bond in a positive way so they can accomplish learning objectives:
- Use an icebreaker sometime within the first 30 minutes of the first day of your training class to give learners a chance to start talking with each other.
- Conduct introductions if the group members do not know one another.
- Use brainteasers or puzzles to get groups to start working together.
- Play a game. Groups quickly bond when working towards a common goal.
- Use buzz groups to encourage table groups to discuss a question or an issue.
The key is to use these instructional techniques early in your training session so class members get the idea that they will work together during the entire learning process. At the start of your training session you should give your class rules on group behavior to avoid any potential problems later on.
It is challenging working with groups but the benefits are many. Groups typically provide their members with the means to accomplish goals that they could not achieve alone, they provide members with support and guidance during the learning process, and they provide a fun way for learners to acquire knowledge and skill.
So, do not be afraid of your groups! Know how they function, use my tips to get them to the performing stage quickly, and all will be well!
What instructional techniques have you used to promote group dynamics?
Hello, I’m Lynne Koltookian, a native New Englander. I have lived here all my life and am now the Boston-based instructor for Langevin Learning Services. I started working for Langevin in March of 2007 after working more than twenty years for corporations in eastern Massachusetts.