Small Group Communication: Process and Theory

Course Number: COMM 215
Transcript Title: Sm Grp Comm: Process & Theory
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: June 6, 2017
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Addresses problem solving aspects of small group activities. Includes process and task, leadership, verbal and non-verbal messages in the small group, norms and roles, conflict reduction, and decision making. Focuses on theory and practice. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply techniques and skills for developing and maintaining a positive, supportive climate in a small group.
  2. Manage projects and solve problems through learned group communication strategies.
  3. Demonstrate conflict management skills and strategies within the small group setting.
  4. Identify and understand impact of culture on team interaction and demonstrate intercultural sensitivity.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)

Not Addressed

5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Qualitative examinations      
  • Quantitative examinations
  • Essays 
  • Journals
  • Research papers
  • In-class participation
  • Portfolios
  • Projects
  • Oral presentations
  • Group work
  • Service Learning

Course Activities and Design

  • Weekly readings from course textbook and chapter quizzes.
  • In-class activities including case studies, role plays, group work, films.
  • In-class discussion of the concepts and principles of small group communication, including leadership, roles, conflict management, decision making, problem solving, achieving consensus.
  • Supplemental films.
  • Presentation and sharing of group communication logs, journals.
  • Field exercises.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, Concepts, and Issues

  • Group Communication Theory
  • Conflict Management
  • Group presentational skills
  • Leadership
  • Rules and Norms
  • Task and Social Roles
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Power
  • Diversity
  • Perception
  • Language
  • Decision making
  • Groupthink
  • Types of groups
  • Group development

Competencies and Skills

  • Be able to think critically, creatively, and systematically in groups.
  • Be able to recognize the relationships between task and social-emotional aspects of group decision-making.
  • Be able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses as group participants.
  • Be able to demonstrate flexibility in assuming alternate roles to enhance the small group process.
  • Be able to monitor a small group’s progress towards achievement of its goals.
  • Be able to determine how their cultural perceptions, attitudes, values, and beliefs influence the communication process.
  • Be able to engage in discussion with an attitude of openness, interest, and respect.
  • Be able to give an effective oral presentation as part of a group project.