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Molly Duggan

HIED 866

CCL 824

HIED 745/845

CCL 826


Course Syllabus


Course Number: HIED 731/831
Course Title: Group Dynamics in Higher Education
Course Sequencing and Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor and/or successful completion of HIED 733/833


Course Description: This course examines the principles and dynamics of group interaction and process while providing strategies for working with groups in higher education settings (i.e., focus groups, task groups, and student, staff, faculty, and parent groups). Students will explore and develop their leadership skills specifically related to forming compatible groups capable of completing tasks that complement the mission, vision, and goals of an institution of higher education. Lecture 3 hours; 3 credits


Course Purpose: Effective higher education leaders promote open, honest communication that supports innovation and teamwork. Leaders frequently work in groups while striving to create a positive environment. Leaders use active listening skills to understand, comprehend, analyze, engage, and act as they work effectively and diplomatically with unique constituent groups such as legislators, board members, business leaders, accreditation organizations, and others, managing conflict and change by building and maintaining productive relationships.

 Course Objectives: After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Use basic attending skills, including (1) non-verbal attending (including minimal encouraging), (2) paraphrasing, (3) responding to feelings, (4) open invitations to talk (e.g., questions), and (5) summarization.
  • Self assess their facilitation skills and other leadership skills.
  • Understand group members' roles; stages of group development; problem behaviors in group; issues related to gender, culture, and class; and strategies to address each.
  • Develop consensus techniques, team building strategies, and collaboration models.
  • Examine the opportunities presented by developing teams of persons with culturally diverse backgrounds.
  • Expand their effectiveness in conducting meetings and forming a vision for organizations.
  • Gather strategies to deal with conflict as well as develop their skills for negotiation and compromise.
  • Collaborate with peers to design and present effective training programs and facilitate focus groups

 Required Texts & Readings:

 *     American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author


 Suggested Texts:
*      Brown, N. (2004). Psychoeducational groups: Process and practice (2nd ed.). New York: Brunner-Routledge.
 *     Francis, D., & Young, D. (1992). Improving work groups: A practical manual for team building (revised). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
 *     Kline, T. (1999). Remaking teams: The revolutionary research-based guide that puts theory into practice. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Course Requirements and Course Overview: Each class meeting will comprise a combination of lecture, discussion, and learning activities such as instructor and learner demonstration, exercises, activities, and practice with attending skills - at times in whole-class, individual, small group, or team formats.

 Students are expected to

      * read all assigned readings from the course texts and all additional readings in advance of   the next class meeting;

      * actively participate in class discussions, demonstrations, practice, and activites: and
      * contribute professional experiences as appropriate during the class.

 All assignments must be submitted
      * according to rerquirements or detailed guidelines to be provided in class meetings;
      * in professionally appearing form;
      * following APA style guidelines where relevant; and
      * on time.

 All students are expected to have access to email, and competency with communication technology, including word processing, presentation technology, and electronic searching.

Weight of Assignments: Please note that doctoral student work is expected to be of higher quality. Doctoral students will work with the instructor to design a separate project appropriate to the student's future career placement and/or dissertation.

Personal Reflective Writings


Proposal / Group Plan / Training Session


Group Facilitation and Group Activity


Critique of Leadership





1. Attendance and Participation. This class is experiential in nature and requires that class participants form into a learning community and be actively involved throughout the course. Learning how to be a productive group member and group leader requires one to participate in group experiences; this class, then, provides a variety of opportunities for such participation. Students will take part in small group and large group activities, as members and in a leadership capacity, both in and outside of the classroom.

Because experiential learning constitutes the majority of this course, missing sessions will significantly affect your ability to benefit from this course. In addition, you will be severely limited in your ability to complete several of the assignments since they are based on your experiences in class interactions.

2. E-Mail and Blackboard Account: Students must activate and use their ODU student e-mail accounts. You will be responsible for checking your ODU account regularly during the semester and checking Blackboard at least twice a week for posted announcements and handouts. All students must have an activated ODU e-mail account and must appear on Blackboard no later than Friday, September 8. Since all class handouts are only available through Blackboard, it is imperative that each student confirms that his or her Blackboard account is working. It is the student's responsibility to work with OCCS in correcting any problem as the instructor is unable to correct these errors for the student. Students with problems activating their Blackboard account should immediately send an e-mail to OCCS at occshelp@odu.edu. Blackboard can be accessed at: http://blackboard.odu.edu

3. Personal Reflective Writings: Part of your learning in this course includes reflecting upon what you have learned and applying this new knowledge to past and present experiences, but in a more personal way. Reflective writing assignments of at least two pages in length, typed, will provide this opportunity.Reflections are to be submitted via e-mail to mduggan@odu.edu only by 4 p.m. of the day they are due. Late submissions will receive a zero. Topics will be announced in class only. Due dates are given in the Course Planner.

4. Proposal, Psychoeducational Group Plan, and Class Training: This assignment involves three parts: a proposal to present a psychoeducational group, a psychoeducational group plan, and a training session for classmates. A psychoeducational group provides psychosocial and educational assistance to its group members. To complete this assignment, students are to select and research a higher education-based population of interest. This may be a population with whom you are presently working or with whom you are interested in working in the future.Possible populations include, but are not limited to, transfer students, entering first-year students, returning women, parents of entering first-year students, first-generation college students, student athletes, and students with disabilities. Write a proposal to offer a series of psychoeducational group sessions for your chosen population that you could present to a program director for consideration. In addition, provide a complete psychoeducational group plan as described below. Later in the semester, students will provide a training session to the class on the needs of the identified population and suggested methods for working with this population. Design the training as you would for the purposes of staff development with your classmates as colleagues or supervisees who you are teaching how to work with this population. This assignment should be completed in a professional style with the assumption that it may be used in the future and become part of a professional portfolio. Due dates are given in the Course Planner. Additional details will provided under Assignments. NOTE: This is not  to be a therapy group.

5. Group Facilitation and Group Activity: The best way to learn to facilitate and participate in a group is to do so. For several weeks of the semester an hour will be dedicated to experiential learning by group interaction. Each student will have the opportunity to facilitate or co-facilitate the group.The student will both facilitate the group and design and deliver an exercise appropriate for the group.The exercise may be for the purpose of opening group discussion, learning and skill development or for group closure. The exercise should be designed appropriately for the group and evaluated as low to moderate risk taking for group members. The purpose of this course requirement is to provide students with group facilitation and activity design experience. Examples of group activities will be provided throughout the semester as part of the classroom experience. Prior to your scheduled facilitation experience, it is recommended that you speak with me for assistance. Groups, as you will learn, go through multiple phases. I may be a valuable resource for helping you to be successful with managing group interaction.

6. Self-Critique of Group Leadership. These critiques are intended to increase your awareness of the demands and promote your awareness of group process, and responsibilities of group leaders, evaluate your beginning group leadership skills.

These critiques are self-evaluations that will help focus your attention on your strengths and weaknesses. You will be graded on the quality of the written critiques, not on the quality of your group leadership skills.

 Each critique must have the following sections:
      1. primary goals and objectives for the session
      2. the method or process you used to achieve the goals and objectives
      3. interpersonal skills you used
      4. a self-evaluation of your group leadership strengths and weaknesses
      5. a summary of what transpired in the session
      6. resistances you observed
      7. feelings expressed by group members
      8. communication patterns

Critiques are to be typed in APA format and submitted one week after you lead a session. As the instructor, I am to be considered a member of the group as far as confidentiality is concerned.

Try to be open and objective when writing your critique. You will be graded on the level and extent to which the critique meets the stated guidelines, not on how good you were as a group leader. You are expected to make mistakes at this point as you are learning how to use group leadership skills and become aware of group process.

7. Mid-Term: The midterm will consist of objective questions, scenarios, and a choice of two out of three essay questions.


92.5 - 100


80 - 82.4


90 - 92.4


77.5 - 79.4


87.5 - 89.9


72.5 - 77.4


82.5 - 87.4


70 - 72.4


 College Classroom Conduct: The following standards are intended to define acceptable classroom behavior that preserves academic integrity and ensures that students have optimum environmental conditions for effective learning.

  1. Students must turn off cell phones and pagers during class or have them set to vibrate mode.
  2. Classes are expected to begin on time, and students will respect the time boundaries established by the professor. If classroom doors are locked, students may not knock or seek entrance in other ways.
  3. Students should notify instructors in advance when a class will be missed. In the event of an emergency that causes a class to be missed, instructors must be notified as soon as possible.
  4. Instructors may require that cell phones and other electronic devices be left on their desks during tests or examinations.
  5. Students must not engage in extraneous conversations during classes. Such acts are considered to be violations of the Code of Student Conduct.
  6. Students will activate their Old Dominion e-mail accounts and check them before each class. If the student chooses to have his/her messages forwarded to another account, it is the student's responsibility to take the necessary steps to have them forwarded.
  7. Consumption of food and drink during class is prohibited, except when the professor has specifically approved of such acts.
  8. Offensive language, gestures and the like are disrespectful and disruptive to the teaching-learning process.

Special Needs: In accordance with university policy, a student who wishes to receive some instructional accommodation because of a documented sensory and/or learning disability should meet with the instructor to discuss this accommodation. Any student who has a concern or needs to make special arrangements for meeting the requirements of the course is also encouraged to speak with the instructor.

Honor Pledge: "I pledge to support the honor system of Old Dominion University. I will refrain from any form of academic dishonesty or deception, such as cheating or plagiarism. I am aware that as a member of the academic community, it is my responsibility to turn in all suspected violators of the honor system. I will report to Honor Council hearings if summoned." By attending Old Dominion University you have accepted the responsibility to abide by this code. This is an institutional policy approved by the Board of Visitors.

Office Hours: Office hours are as follows:

 Mondays 1:00-4:00 p.m
 Tuesdays 10:00 - 2:00 p.m.
 Also available by e-mail and by appointment.

.Withdrawal: A syllabus constitutes a contract between the student and the course instructor. Participation in this course indicates your acceptance of its teaching focus, requirements, and policies. Please review the syllabus and the course requirements as soon as possible. If you believe that the nature of this course does not meet your interests, needs or expectations, if you are not prepared for the amount of work involved or if you anticipate that the class meetings, assignment deadlines or abiding by the course policies will constitute an unacceptable hardship for you, then please drop the class by the drop/add deadline, Tuesday October 24, 2006.

Professional Information and Background Statement

Instructor: Molly Duggan, PhD, Assistant Professor.

Specialties: career development, workforce development, use of animated pedagogical agents to teach helping skills, dislocated workers, program assessment & evaluationand transfer andtransfer student retention. Member American College Personnel Association (ACPA), Member National Council for Research & Planning (NCPA), Member Council for the Study of Community Colleges )CSCC), Web Designer SOHSE 2005 Conference, Member Virginia Counseling Association, Member Virginia Assessment Group (VAG), Member American Educational Research Association (AERA), Member Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and Member Darden College of Education Human Subjects Review Committee. Publications in the last year include "Distance Learners - Welcome to Campus" with Schwitzer (About Campus), "Career Counseling in Women's Groups: A Relational Approach" with Jurgens (VCA Journal), "Program Evaluation  in Human Service Education: Applying a Chain of Objectives Model" with Schwitzer et al. (Human Service Education), and "Teaching Effective Helping Skills at a Distance: The Development of Project CATHIE" with Adcock (Quarterly Review of Distance Education). Lead author of Career Interventions and Techniques: A Complete Guide for Human Service Professionals.

Primary theoretical orientation: Cognitive - Behavioral theorist focusing on identifying the thinking that is causing the feelings / behaviors and to learn how to replace this thinking with thoughts that lead to more desirable reactions. Teaching techniques emphasize bridging the gap between theoretical classroom experience and the world of work, creating a student-centered environment, introducing life-long learning skills, and integrating technology. This approach allows students to learn how to learn while applying techniques learned in the classroom to real-world experience.

The instructor reserves the right to amend this document as necessary.