16.5 Enrichment

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you believe to be the major drawbacks and benefits to working with groups?
  2. What advice would you give to a friend who was placed in an in-class group that was extremely adversarial and full of conflict?
  3. In what situations would a designated leader be better than an emergent leader, and vice versa? Why?
  4. Think of a leader that you currently work with or have worked with who made a strong (positive or negative) impression on you. Which leadership style did he or she use most frequently? Cite specific communication behaviors to back up your analysis.
  5. Which of the task-related roles do you think has the greatest potential of going wrong and causing conflict within the group and why?
  6. Which maintenance role do think you’ve performed the best in previous group experiences? How did your communication and behaviors help you perform the role’s functions? Which maintenance role have you had the most difficulty or least interest in performing? Why?
  7. Describe a situation in which you have witnessed a person playing one of the self-centered roles in a group. How did the person communicate? What were the effects? Now describe a situation in which you have witnessed a person playing one of the unproductive roles in a group. How did the person communicate? What were the effects?
  8. Group communication researchers have found that heterogeneous groups (composed of diverse members) have advantages over homogenous (more similar) groups. Discuss a group situation you have been in where diversity enhanced your and/or the group’s experience.
  9. Why do you think people tasked with a group presentation (especially students) prefer to divide the parts up and have members work on them independently before coming back together and integrating each part? What problems emerge from this method? In what ways might developing a main presentation and then assigning parts to different speakers be better than the more divided method? What are the drawbacks to the main presentation method?


  1. With your assigned small group members, use the small group problem-solving sequence to prepare a three to four minute speech to solve what the group perceives as a current problem at OSU. Begin by identifying a problem from your perspective, specifically focusing on how OSU could improve. As a group, (1) define the problem, (2) analyze the problem and define criteria, (3) generate possible solutions, (4) select what the group considers the best solution using the established criteria, and (5) provide information on how your group suggests implementing and assessing the solution. Explain why the group felt that the selected solution is better than the other possible solutions. Groups will have the opportunity to present their speech to the class.
  2. In class, move to your problem-solving groups. Using the Nominal Group Technique described in section 16.4, come up with solutions to the problem of “roommate conflict.” Your group can specify if it’s over cleanliness, boundaries, communication difficulties, shared tasks, etc.
  3. Write a few paragraphs summarizing your responses to the following questions and submit it to your instructor:
    • What communication competencies do you think are most important for a leader to have and why? How are men and women judged differently in regard to competencies? How do YOU rate in terms of the competencies you ranked as most important?
    • Who do you know who would be able to give you constructive feedback on your leadership skills? What do you think this person would say?  You may want to consider actually asking the person for feedback.
  4. With your assigned small group, identify the decision-making technique that would be best for each of the following scenarios. Explain your reasoning as well.
    • A professor asks her class to decide whether the final exam should be a notable presentation given in class or a comprehensive exam taken online.
    • A family needs to decide who will care for their aging father who is battling dementia or how they will pay for a nursing home with memory care.
    • A group of co-workers must decide which person in their department should be nominated for Employee of the Year award, which includes an extra week of paid vacation as well as an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii.


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