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To get to know the effectiveness of a group we have to be concerned first about the group’s efficacy which could as well be termed as the average or the approximate ability of the group to perform a given task. For a given group to be effective there are many things to be considered. These could be things like how the group sets its goals, how they conduct all its planning, discussions involved, the amount of time dedicated towards the group, and the contribution of the group members.
The perception of group members usually determines the effect it has on the group’s goals. For the effectiveness of a group to manifest itself, there are different levels of users to be considered. All these levels are mostly to self-usefulness. First is what achievement one has made in the past. The successes and failures one has had in the past will surely have an impact on what the person will do next by either giving the person confidence or discouraging the person. Another thing that affects self-worth is if a person finds someone similar to him or her in one way or another in doing a given job successfully. This raises a person’s confidence and gives him hope that he can also do it. The third one is when one is convinced to do something with everyone showing some sense of trusting in the person. This usually does not give that much effect on the person but it usually keeps the person long enough in the group whereby some other thing can later come to give an influence on the same person. The final one is psychological arousal which can have a positive or negative effect on a given individual but this usually depends on one’s interpretation (Chang, 2005).
We are going to determine how the following dimensions of group participation contribute to group effectiveness:
- Verbal and nonverbal communication
- Group development over time
- Roles – task roles, maintenance roles
- Social interdependence and trust
Verbal and nonverbal communication
Group work is mainly done through discussion which is part of verbal communication. When doing a given type of group work that is before coming up with the final piece of work, research is usually done then it is followed by a discussion. The main reason why discussion is done is for the whole group to understand what everyone has done. Before a discussion is done the group members are mostly advised to do personal research or to read about what is to be discussed so that by the time of discussion everyone in the group is informed of what the discussion entails. When this is done, what happens is during the time of discussion everyone contributes towards the discussion, giving what they understand on a given topic and being able to argue for or against what they think can be wrong or right. The main importance of group discussion is to enable everyone in the group to understand. When a nonverbal approach is used the opposite of what is achieved when doing it through a discussion is achieved. When a given piece of group work is done nonverbally there is no chance of getting to critique what has been done. Therefore, one is not able to know what the other group member has done. Also contradicting ideas may not get the chance to be sorted out; giving something that is not satisfactory and might also be erroneous.
Group development overtime
During the start of a group work members sometimes tend to be shy or afraid to express themselves. Expressing personal opinion usually to a stranger is not very easy for many people as they are not sure of how rational the other person can be. Would they give an honest opinion about your suggestion or would they be biased? When group members start to spend more time together they tend to be more honest with each other. To reach this stage they ought to have spent a lot of time together and also gain the trust of one another. Here, the effectiveness of the group now improves same as their ability to do a presentable job. When a tight bond between group members has been achieved we find that the group members start to be open with one another. This makes discussions easier and lively as nearly everyone contributes equally towards it leaving no one out. In cases where one or more members of the group find that they cannot understand something, they open up to their fellow group members who then give them the assistance they need. If there occurs a chance that the group has been dissolved you will still find the former members of the group doing things together or when they encounter problems within their course of study they seek help from the former members of their group. The main reason for this is that the bond they had established earlier is not easily broken.
Roles – task roles, maintenance roles
In a group members usually have roles to play to make the group they are in effect. The main role is mostly that of the group leaders. The leader is responsible for making sure that the members are always available for group meetings, ensuring that they are serious in their part as group members, and also assigning work to the group members. Another role that can be available for the group members is that of the secretary of the group. For the group to work properly and to avoid unnecessary complaints; is to rotate the roles which are available for the group members. This ensures that no member of the group would say that a certain person has an advantage over them while playing a given role. Another important thing of why roles are to be rotated among the group members is to ensure that every member is responsible for what is done and also have the feeling of not being considered less inferior to another member of the group. When this is done everyone would have the feeling of being an important member of the group and that he or she has an important role to play as a member of that group (Turner, 2001).
Social interdependence and trust
Social interdependence is a major reason why a group is formed. The main objective of a group is to help one another in areas they find to be hard or those they completely cannot understand. For someone to go and ask for help from another person he has to have some trust that the person he is approaching will be willing to help whether he is able or not. This trust should be achieved since it’s the essential bit needed to convince a person of the importance of the group. The group members can be considered socially inter-dependable when they can interact with one another openly without thinking negatively about each other. They also have to consider that they are all equal and that the most important role of the group is mainly to assist each other. The group does not only have to depend on one another academically but also in their social lives as anything affecting a person socially can at the same time affect their academic work. When they open up to one another and share their problems some of these problems are solved and those which are not solved, the people concerned get the necessary advice on how to go about them. One thing about social interdependence is that a person cannot just tell you the problems one has if there is no bit of trust available between the two parties involved.
- Chang, D.T. (2005). Determinants of group effectiveness: the effect of group learning and knowledge conversion on the relationship between group stewardship and group effectiveness. Florida: Nova Southeastern University
- Turner, M.E. (2001). Groups at work: theory and research. New York: Routledge