Small Group /Communication
Steven A. Beebe Southwest Texas State University J. Kevin Barge Baylor University
Pedagogy and research document the importance of small group communication skills. Yet, despite the unchallenged importance of learning small group communication skills there have been few systematic efforts to identify and develop a valid and reliable measure of group competencies. This chapter identifies advantages of assessing group competencies and the issues that need to be addressed in order to develop a comprehensive group assessment tool. A review of research and small group assessment tools are presented. The first step in developing a group assessment instrument is to identify the purpose of the instrument. Small group competencies need to be identified and criteria for assessing the competencies should be formulated. Finally, the instrument should be developed and tested.
Communicating in small groups has long been valued as an important skill. In ancient Greece, Socrates used the dialectical skill of using questions to search for truth, a systematic process that served as the foundation for today's courses in small group communication. We continue to teach students how to seek answers to questions, solve problems, and make decisions in small groups. Group communication skills are increasingly held in high esteem as corporate quality improvement programs, employee involvement efforts, and teamwork all hinge on individuals effectively communicating in small groups ( Scholtes, 1988). The ubiquitous group meeting remains one of the most popular formats for making decisions and solving problems ( Mosvick & Nelson, 1987). Yet, despite the unchallenged