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CMST 230 Small Group Communication: Group Analysis Project

This guide will assist students in CMST 230 with their research assignments.

Group Background

Biography in Context

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Research Process for the Group Analysis

N.W.A. Reunion Tour | Rolling StoneTo begin, you'll want to make sure you have a good sense of who the members of your group are. Depending on the group you've chosen and their relationship, this might just be current members, or it might include other influential figures (founders, coaches, managers, officials, etc.)

To find this background information, you'll want to use biographical and reference overviews. You can use the collections and search tools to the left to find your group's background, as well as relevant background articles from subject encyclopedias in the library.

A special note about researching "group dynamics" connected to a historical event -- You will want to begin with the event itself and read a couple of overviews-- you are looking for major figures / names connected with the events, not necessarily every single person involved. 

 

Information to look for at this step:

  • Names of the members of your group
  • Roles within the group
  • When the group began and (if it applies) when it dissolved
  • A rough timeline of events that the group participated in / were affected by

Beatleness book coverUse the Find Books and Articles and Find Videos and Interviews sections (under the Group Analysis Project tab on this research guide) to find more detailed information on your group and their dynamics.

Useful sources to track down at this point might include more biographies, news stories, interviews, reviews of the group's output (album reviews, performance reviews, etc.), books that discuss the group and its history or influence, documentaries, etc.

 

Suggestions from the Librarian:

  • Find MORE sources than you think you'll need at first-- as you pull your presentation together and answer the analysis questions, you might find pieces of the answers in many different places, so it's useful to have a larger "pool" of info to draw from.

  • If you see print books on your group or event-- give these sources a chance! Print books in particular might go into detail on your group's dynamics and will be very helpful in providing examples for your presentations.

Your Speech Prompt (including analysis questions):

Choose a historical group (three or more people) that has had a life cycle (meaning they came together, they were a group for awhile, and then they split up. Analyze the dynamics within the group. You’ll want to select a fairly well-known group because it will make your research MUCH easier.

You’ll want to analyze the group by talking about a few of the more common small group dynamics. I don’t expect you to cover every single one of these – just the concepts you feel are most relevant to the group you choose.

  1. Influence of size - How does a new member or even a member’s new love interest (hello, Yoko Ono) impact the rest of the group?
  1. Adaptability to change - How does the rate, degree, and desirability of change within the band affect their dynamic? Consider the impact of sudden fame, oodles of cash, and all that goes along with that.
  1. Group Synergy - Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Some groups are pure magic when they’re together, then they split up and the various members’ solo careers are, well, not that great. What’s up with that anyway?
  1. Leadership - Who is the leader of the group? Is there one? How does that get decided? What sort of leadership style is exhibited?
  1. Conformity - How did members conform to group norms? Or did they? How did the rest of the group deal with deviant members?
  1. Interconnectedness - How do the actions of one member ripple through the rest of the group? What effect does the actions of one have on the experience of the others?
  1. Conflict - Plenty to talk about here! What sorts of conflicts arose? Why? How did the group attempt to deal with that conflict? Where did they go wrong?
  1. Roles - Who plays what role within the group? Do those roles change? If yes, why?
  1. Norms - What sorts of norms define the band? What norms did they create for themselves? How did these norms affect the overall group mentality?
  1. Decision-making - How did the group make decisions? Consensus? Majority Rule? Did one person simply impose their will on the others? Did the way they made decisions end up being a factor in their demise? Explain.
  1. Problem-Solving - How did the band go about trying to solve their issues?
  1. Power - Who had power in the group? How did they wield it? Did other members resist or defy that power? How? Did the power dynamics change over time?
  1. And of course, you’ll want to talk about how and why they ended or adjourned. What went wrong? Could it have been avoided? 

Examples of possible groups include: Lewis & Clark's traveling party, The Beatles, The Jackson Five, The Knights of the RoundTable, FDR's Brain Trust, TLC, Destiny's Child, Backstreet Boys, Originating members of Saturday Night Live, "Miracle on Ice" team, etc. 

You’re free to choose whomever you want, but remember, this is not just a “Behind The Music” or "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" tell-all; it’s an analysis of group behavior, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with this. Be creative! Be engaging! There’s no reason at all for any of these presentations to be boring or dull. You have a lot of freedom in how you want to put things together. Take advantage of that and rock our world!

Your group will be evaluated according to how well you all are able to explain and illustrate group communication concepts within the group of your choice.

Your presentation will be 30-40 minutes long. You should plan it so that you demonstrate that you are a group, not just five or six individuals who happen to find yourselves standing in front of the class together.  Every person in the group should present for an equal amount of time and they should each be introduced at the beginning.

Your group will need to give me a set of minutes for your group meeting and a typed handout that will include an outline of the presentation, references and a clear indication of who is covering what. 

In addition, each individual’s presentation should be sure to cover the following areas:

  • Define each term and idea you’ve found through your research. Explain how they relate to your chosen band. Be certain to cite your sources as you go. Don’t lump them all together at the end. Citing as you go helps me see exactly where you found your information and how you’re using it. This part is super important.
     
  • Give examples of the relevant ideas you’re covering. Examples may be drawn from YouTube, other video clips you find, role-playing reenactments, or whatever you feel works best.
     
  • Be prepared for questions from the audience.

MLA citation style boxOnce you have found your information and matched it to your analysis questions, it's important to make sure you are keeping your information organized and citing where each piece of outside information comes from.

As part of your assignment, you will also be defining new or specialized terms for your audience and will need to cite your source for the definitions.

For help citing your sources in MLA style, check out the library's citation guide on the Citing Your Sources tab in this guide.