Health Education Development/Group Dynamics and Group Processes

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Working Groups

Summary notes for the week to come...


  1. Read the notes introducing this topic.
  2. Watch the videos in this topic's playlist Group Dynamics and Group Processes.
  3. Prepare for the lectorial by reading the Executive Summary, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (or, pages 7-14) of Health Education and this brief piece on group dynamics, The Use of Group Processes in Teaching Group Dynamics (explores the importance of leadership), which you should compare with the work of Tuckman and Jensen, Stages of Small Group Development Revisited.
  4. Attend the lectorial (forthcoming 19 March 2014) or view the lectorial presentation (forthcoming).
  5. Before your tutorial get to know the dimensions (i.e., cognitive, affective and behavioural) of Bloom's Taxonomy. Carefully review the material on pages 1-19, page 29 (Develop and Share Personal Goals) and page 34 (Goal Setting) of Cooperative Learning Group Activities
  6. Attend the tutorial and participate in the activities on pages 29 and 34 of Cooperative Learning Group Activities
  • Review the Assessment and Feedback guide and review the Role Definitions.
  • Conclude forming your project team (<5 people) and together review the Cooperative Learning Contract. Your team contract should be completed before your team facilitates its second group activity.
  • Delegate a Vulnerable Group to each team member, and collaborate with other teams in your workshop to gather information about each Vulnerable Group.
  • Team to begin preparing to facilitate a group learning activity (assignment) selected from Cooperative Learning Group Activities. Be sure to include the Program Logic Narrative with the plan (example one and example two). This activity is to be delivered by your team in the tutorials. Please ensure your Plan and Logic addresses the issues of Vulnerable Groups and the topic of Group Dynamics and Group Processes.

How does understanding Group Dynamics and Group Processes support HED?[edit]

You have already gained a great deal of experience with groups. I do not merely mean that you have worked in groups during your secondary schooling and, if you are a La Trobe University student in the Faculty of Health Sciences, in the Core First Year program. Your family is a group. If you participate in one, your faith community, especially the smaller collection of people with whom you have spent time, is a group. If you were involved in sports or have been a volunteer in some community enterprise, you have been a member of a group. C. Fred Alford (1994) even goes so far as to say that our larger institutions, such as a university as a whole, or our societies are group-like entities. We can only understand them fully when we take this into account. Take some time to consider your participation in groups. What has this been like for you? Has it been good and you expect that everyone has had this sort of experience? Or, have you had rather shocking experiences that make you very hesitant to engage during the tutorials and lectorials? If this becomes a problem, please see your tutor or the subject coordinator (c'est moi). There are supports for helping with these issues. For better or worse, this is an area that all of us in the workforce have to learn to deal with for our own sake and for the sake of others. This topic will seek to clarify two very important, but interrelated aspects of group life. How do we relate and what does that do to our ability to cooperate in the various processes required to complete the tasks we have undertaken or that have been allotted to us by others. Good leadership is required to keep these two aspects supporting, rather than undermining, each other.


To work well in groups, we need to consider two sorts of things. The first has to do with the nature of the relationships between the group members who will fulfil various roles. Often people act towards each other out of their past or present unresolved intra- and interpersonal difficulties and not out of their stated group roles (Freud 1960). The second has to do with the actual roles and activities that a group must engage in to be able to complete their explicit task. Of course, there will be implicit tasks such as managing anxiety and depressive mood that are part of a group's life as well (Bion 1968). Good leadership helps balance between the various relationships and the tasks to be completed to ensure that the group achieves its stated goals while maturing the members of the group (Alford 1994). This involves the creation of a safe space within which to work. In such a space, people know what they are responsible for and how that responsibility will be supported and rewarded, or held accountable. This topic will help you think about and work out these issues in the context of a health education situation supporting the development of health literacy which, in turn, supports self-efficacy. It is not always easy to separate out group dynamics and group processes as it is the same individuals and their relations which we are considering. One model for looking at the development of groups that gives us some indication of how these two aspects of groups interplay and either move forward to better resolutions or bog us down can be found in Tuckman (1965) and Tuckman and Jensen (1977). The phases that they outline are: forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning and mourning. Two more recent applications of Tuckman's work are worth considering as well. Glowacki-Dudka and Barnett (2007) used a qualitative approach to confirm that Tuckman and Jensen's stages of group development held true in an online adult learning environment. Miller (2003) used a quantitative retrospective questionnaire whose "reliability and content validity analyses provided evidence that the retrospective method can be used to evaluate group development stages"; in other words, we can track backwards to come up with very good material for evaluating group dynamics and group processes without interfering unduly.

References and Resources

Alford, C.F. (1994) Group psychology and political theory. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Bion, W.R. (1968) Experiences in groups and other papers (Social Science Paperback). London: Tavistock.

Freud, S. (1960) Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. New York: Bantam.

Glowacki-Dudka, M. and Barnett, N. (2007) Connecting critical reflection and group deelopment in online adult dducation classrooms. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 19(1):43-52.

Miller, D.L. (2003) The stages of group development: A retrospective study of dynamic team processes. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences. 20(2):121-134.

Tuckman, B.W. (1965) Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin. 63(6):384-399.

Tuckman, B.W. and Jensen, M.A.C. (1977) Stages of small group development revisited. Group and Organizational Studies. 2:419-427.

Learning Outcomes[edit]

Upon completion of this topic, through your own investigations, group preparation, tutorial participation and lectorial explorations, you should be able to:

  1. Distinguish group dynamics from group processes and explain the importance of leadership with regard to group development and maintenance and individual autonomy, responsibility and growth in maturity.
  2. Summarise the essential requirements and characteristics of successful group work and propose ways for avoiding typical pitfalls.
  3. Outline key processes required for team-based learning to be successful in terms of task completion and learning outcomes and rate them in terms of their importance in a manner that can be considered by others.
  4. Explain the importance of understanding that health education requires both content and process related outcomes and provide a well-supported argument for this in terms of self-efficacy.