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The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication

The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication

January 2008 | 304 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication provides the beginning student with basic concepts, skills, and practices to become an effective group member. Unlike other small group communication textbooks that revolve around group work and group presentations, this textbook centers on the individual group mem­ber. That is, students who read this textbook will learn how their contribution to any small group endeavor can be enhanced by learning about (1) the small group communication process (e.g., components of small group communication, group socialization, group development), (2) the unique qualities each group member brings to the process (e.g., communication and personality traits, diversity, ethics), and (3) how the qualities of each group member can enhance or detract from various aspects of the small group process in terms of both the group task (e.g., the func­tional perspective of small group communication, engaging in problem-solving and decision-making techniques, roles, shared leadership) and group member relationships (e.g., engaging in relational communication, handling conflict, establishing a supportive climate).

The treatment is succinct and practical. The chapters are arranged in a way that suggests three overarching themes: characteristics of small group communication and the individual group member (chapters 1-5), the group task (chapters 6-9), and group member relationships (chapters 10-14).

By presenting a clear, uncluttered introduction to small group communication--without the distracting jargon, "bells & whistles," and cost-inflating color photographs found in most texts--The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication offers an attractive option for those who are genuinely concerned about using a great textbook that is affordable, easy to read, translates research extremely well, and offers students prac­tical information about small group communication that they can use.
List of Tables, Figures, and Assessment Tools
About the Authors
1. Components of Small Group Communication
Case Study

Definition of Small Group Communication

Primary Features of Small Group Communication

Secondary Features of Small Group Communication

Types of Small Groups

Ethics of Small Group Membership

A Final Note about Small Group Communication


Discussion Questions


2. The Small Group Socialization Process
Case Study

Why Individuals Join Groups

Small Group Socialization

Model of Small Group Socialization

Outcomes of Socialization

Socialization Guidelines

A Final Note about the Small Group Socialization Process


Discussion Questions


3. Small Group Member Communication and Personality Traits
Case Study

Definition and Differentiation of Traits

Communication Traits

Personality Traits

Communication and Personality Traits in the Small Group

A Final Note about Small Group Member Traits


Discussion Questions


4. Diversity Among Small Group Members
Case Study

Definition and Outcomes of Diversity

Cultural Diversity

Demographic Diversity: Sex and Gender

Cognitive Diversity: Learning Styles

Communication Traits as a Reflection of Diversity

A Final Note about Diversity among Small Group Members


Discussion Questions


5. Models of Small Group Development
Case Study

Group Development

Developmental Models

Characteristics of Group Development

A Final Note about Small Group Development


Discussion Questions


6. Characteristics of Small Group Tasks
Case Study

Characteristics of a Task

Engaging in Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Tasks

Functional Perspective of Small Group Communication


A Final Note about the Small Group Task


Discussion Questions


7. Small Group Decision-Making Procedures
Case Study

Definition of Decision-Making Procedures

Types of Decision-Making Procedures

Why Use Decision-Making Procedures?

A Final Note about Small Group Decision-Making Procedures


Discussion Questions


8. Development of Small Group Roles
Case Study

Functional Approach to Roles

General Propositions of Roles

Role Development

Types of Roles

A Final Note about Small Group Roles


Discussion Questions


9. Approaches to Small Group Leadership
Case Study

Being a Leader vs. Sharing Leadership

Classic Leadership Approaches

Popular Communication Leadership Approaches

Guidelines to Enhance Leadership Competence

A Final Note about Small Group Leadership


Discussion Questions


10. Relational Communication among Small Group Members
Case Study

Definition of Relational Communication

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Functions of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication


A Final Note about Relational Communication


Discussion Questions


11. Conflict in the Small Group
Case Study

Definition of Conflict

Types of Small Group Conflict

Conflict-Handling Styles

Guidelines for Handling Conflict

A Final Note about Small Group Conflict


Discussion Questions


12. Cohesion and Climate in the Small Group
Case Study

The Importance of Cohesion

Definition of Communication Climate

How Communication Climate is Established

Turning a Defensive Climate into a Supportive Climate

A Final Note about Cohesion and Climate


Discussion Questions


Appendix A: Connecting Small Group Communication Concepts
Case Study

Connecting Textbook Content to Small Group Interactions

A Final Note about Connecting Small Group Concepts


Discussion Questions

Appendix B: Designing and Delivering Small Group Presentations
Case Study

Designing the Small Group Presentation

Delivering the Small Group Presentation

A Final Note about Designing and Delivering the Presentation


Discussion Questions



"For the introductory group communication course, I believe this book would be an excellent choice. Too many small group communication textbooks focus on the group and not the individual in the group. It covers enough material but not in too much depth for a first-year student to understand the basics of small group communication. Additionally, I like the interpersonal approach this text takes in regards to the individual in the small group. Our students need to know how to 'act' in a small group, and this book provides that direction. Moreover, I think the small case studies at the beginning of each chapter will encourage the student to actually read the chapter because they are interesting and relate to our students’ everyday lives."

Chad Edwards
Western Michigan University

"I like the approach of this text. Looking at small group communication as a series of interpersonal interactions is a novel approach: Showing students how they are responsible in the interaction—what they have to gain and what they have to lose in the small group—is applicable to the 'real world.' The important terms, concepts, and theories are well thought out, well developed, and presented in a clear and concise manner."

Ann Marie Jablonowski
Owens Community College

"I really appreciate the book's focus on how the individual contributes to the group communication context. The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication is easy to read, translates research extremely well, and offers students practical information about small group communication that they can use."

Shawn T. Wahl
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Great introduction text to understanding Small Group Communication.

Professor Al Dorsett
Communication Dept, Kean University
February 5, 2015

Heard good things from other profs but I found the text to simplistic and repetitive, would not reccommend

Ms Sade Barfield
Communication Studies Dept, University Of Northern Iowa
January 19, 2015

The authors avoid jargon and write well. Also, from the start, they encourage class exercises, which allows the students to practice the theory.

Ms Ann Brandon
English, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Vermont Technical College
May 9, 2013

This is a text I use for an introductory class on developing psycho-educational groups for offenders. Rather than having students go through a dry process of reading what goes into a group, this text takes the reader on a tour of the dynamics and processes of communication members of a group are exposed to or use. The students seem to "get it" and can easily report back their thoughts on the text. The short, explicit chapters seem to offer greater readability and cover everything I would have wanted in a group (curriculum) development text. It will be interesting to see if the second phase of the course- where students actually develop a group curriculum- revolves around the text.

Dr Jeremy Olson
Criminal Justice, Seton Hill University
February 28, 2013

I really liked the size of the text, ease of reading, and the case studies. Also, I thought first year college students would enjoy and learn from this text. Great information, easy to understand and not too complicated.

Ms Eugenia Scott
Arts & Humanities, Bowling Green Technical College
December 11, 2012

Easy to read with good examples.Maybe not suitable for primary text in my course.

Mr Mikko Saastamoinen
Social Science , University of Eastern Finland
June 26, 2011

The book provides an excellent introduction for a small group communication class. It is reader-friendly and can be easily understood, yet encompasses a rather broad overview of theories related to interpersonal dynamics in small groups. The text provides tools and case studies, that enable a practical understanding of the text. It's a wonderful book, and I am glad to have found it. I will use it in every class related to teams or groups, and perhaps add chapters from it to my organizational introductory courses.

Dr Shiri Lavy
Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ariel University Center
December 13, 2009

Scott A. Myers

Scott A. Myers (PhD, Kent State University) is a professor and Peggy Rardin McConnell Chair in the Department of Communication Studies at West Virginia University (WVU) where he teaches courses in instructional communication, organizational communication, and communication pedagogy. His research interests center primarily on the student-instructor relationship in the college classroom and the adult sibling relationship, with his research appearing in outlets such as Communication Education, Journal of Family Communication, Communication Research Reports, and Communication Quarterly, among others. At WVU, he was recognized by the Eberly... More About Author

Carolyn M. Anderson