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The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication

The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication

January 2008 | 304 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication provides readers with the fundamentals they need to become functional and productive members of any small group. Readers are introduced to the fundamental issues faced by all small groups (such as socialization, development, ethics, diversity) and the procedures utilized by effective small groups (for example, task accomplishment, decision making, climate).  

With a focus on the individual group member, this textbook encourages readers to reflect on how their communication behaviors (e.g., communication traits, verbal and nonverbal communication, listening style) and practices (e.g., their leadership style, their conflict management style) contribute to their current small group experiences.  

Intended Audience  
This textbook is intended for introductory courses in group communication as found in department of communication studies, leadership, marketing, management, and interdisciplinary studies.

Accompanied by High Quality Ancillaries!
An Instructors Resource CD is available to qualified adopters.

This Instructor's Resource CD is designed to aid you in using easily The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication. The CD has been created by Scott A. Myers (West Virginia University), Katie N. Dunleavy (LaSalle University), Brianna N. Loy (West Virginia University) and Paul E. Madlock (West Virginia University). Each chapter contains the following ancillary materials:
Chapter Outline

  • Test Questions
  • In-Class Activities
  • PowerPoint Slides

A list of paper topics is also provided in the section titled Teaching Resources.

Bundle Options - Explore discounted bundles available with this text. Our bundle prices are lower than the prices of most other Group Communication texts alone! Please contact your Sales Representative for more information.

List of Tables, Figures, and Assessment Tools
About the Authors
1. Components of Small Group Communication
Case Study

Definition of Small Group Communication

Primary Features of Small Group Communication

Secondary Features of Small Group Communication

Types of Small Groups

Ethics of Small Group Membership

A Final Note about Small Group Communication


Discussion Questions


2. The Small Group Socialization Process
Case Study

Why Individuals Join Groups

Small Group Socialization

Model of Small Group Socialization

Outcomes of Socialization

Socialization Guidelines

A Final Note about the Small Group Socialization Process


Discussion Questions


3. Small Group Member Communication and Personality Traits
Case Study

Definition and Differentiation of Traits

Communication Traits

Personality Traits

Communication and Personality Traits in the Small Group

A Final Note about Small Group Member Traits


Discussion Questions


4. Diversity Among Small Group Members
Case Study

Definition and Outcomes of Diversity

Cultural Diversity

Demographic Diversity: Sex and Gender

Cognitive Diversity: Learning Styles

Communication Traits as a Reflection of Diversity

A Final Note about Diversity among Small Group Members


Discussion Questions


5. Models of Small Group Development
Case Study

Group Development

Developmental Models

Characteristics of Group Development

A Final Note about Small Group Development


Discussion Questions


6. Characteristics of Small Group Tasks
Case Study

Characteristics of a Task

Engaging in Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Tasks

Functional Perspective of Small Group Communication


A Final Note about the Small Group Task


Discussion Questions


7. Small Group Decision-Making Procedures
Case Study

Definition of Decision-Making Procedures

Types of Decision-Making Procedures

Why Use Decision-Making Procedures?

A Final Note about Small Group Decision-Making Procedures


Discussion Questions


8. Development of Small Group Roles
Case Study

Functional Approach to Roles

General Propositions of Roles

Role Development

Types of Roles

A Final Note about Small Group Roles


Discussion Questions


9. Approaches to Small Group Leadership
Case Study

Being a Leader vs. Sharing Leadership

Classic Leadership Approaches

Popular Communication Leadership Approaches

Guidelines to Enhance Leadership Competence

A Final Note about Small Group Leadership


Discussion Questions


10. Relational Communication among Small Group Members
Case Study

Definition of Relational Communication

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Functions of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication


A Final Note about Relational Communication


Discussion Questions


11. Conflict in the Small Group
Case Study

Definition of Conflict

Types of Small Group Conflict

Conflict-Handling Styles

Guidelines for Handling Conflict

A Final Note about Small Group Conflict


Discussion Questions


12. Cohesion and Climate in the Small Group
Case Study

The Importance of Cohesion

Definition of Communication Climate

How Communication Climate is Established

Turning a Defensive Climate into a Supportive Climate

A Final Note about Cohesion and Climate


Discussion Questions


Appendix A: Connecting Small Group Communication Concepts
Case Study

Connecting Textbook Content to Small Group Interactions

A Final Note about Connecting Small Group Concepts


Discussion Questions

Appendix B: Designing and Delivering Small Group Presentations
Case Study

Designing the Small Group Presentation

Delivering the Small Group Presentation

A Final Note about Designing and Delivering the Presentation


Discussion Questions



"For the introductory group communication course, I believe this book would be an excellent choice. Too many small group communication textbooks focus on the group and not the individual in the group. It covers enough material but not in too much depth for a first-year student to understand the basics of small group communication. Additionally, I like the interpersonal approach this text takes in regards to the individual in the small group. Our students need to know how to 'act' in a small group, and this book provides that direction. Moreover, I think the small case studies at the beginning of each chapter will encourage the student to actually read the chapter because they are interesting and relate to our students’ everyday lives."

Chad Edwards
Western Michigan University

"I like the approach of this text. Looking at small group communication as a series of interpersonal interactions is a novel approach: Showing students how they are responsible in the interaction—what they have to gain and what they have to lose in the small group—is applicable to the 'real world.' The important terms, concepts, and theories are well thought out, well developed, and presented in a clear and concise manner."

Ann Marie Jablonowski
Owens Community College

"I really appreciate the book's focus on how the individual contributes to the group communication context. The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication is easy to read, translates research extremely well, and offers students practical information about small group communication that they can use."

Shawn T. Wahl
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Great introduction text to understanding Small Group Communication.

Professor Al Dorsett
Communication Dept, Kean University
February 5, 2015

Heard good things from other profs but I found the text to simplistic and repetitive, would not reccommend

Ms Sade Barfield
Communication Studies Dept, University Of Northern Iowa
January 19, 2015

The authors avoid jargon and write well. Also, from the start, they encourage class exercises, which allows the students to practice the theory.

Ms Ann Brandon
English, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Vermont Technical College
May 9, 2013

This is a text I use for an introductory class on developing psycho-educational groups for offenders. Rather than having students go through a dry process of reading what goes into a group, this text takes the reader on a tour of the dynamics and processes of communication members of a group are exposed to or use. The students seem to "get it" and can easily report back their thoughts on the text. The short, explicit chapters seem to offer greater readability and cover everything I would have wanted in a group (curriculum) development text. It will be interesting to see if the second phase of the course- where students actually develop a group curriculum- revolves around the text.

Dr Jeremy Olson
Criminal Justice, Seton Hill University
February 28, 2013

I really liked the size of the text, ease of reading, and the case studies. Also, I thought first year college students would enjoy and learn from this text. Great information, easy to understand and not too complicated.

Ms Eugenia Scott
Arts & Humanities, Bowling Green Technical College
December 11, 2012

Easy to read with good examples.Maybe not suitable for primary text in my course.

Mr Mikko Saastamoinen
Social Science , University of Eastern Finland
June 26, 2011

The book provides an excellent introduction for a small group communication class. It is reader-friendly and can be easily understood, yet encompasses a rather broad overview of theories related to interpersonal dynamics in small groups. The text provides tools and case studies, that enable a practical understanding of the text. It's a wonderful book, and I am glad to have found it. I will use it in every class related to teams or groups, and perhaps add chapters from it to my organizational introductory courses.

Dr Shiri Lavy
Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ariel University Center
December 13, 2009
Key features
  • Contains several chapters not found in other small group communication text­books, such as:  the small group socialization process, communication and person­ality traits, communication ethics, and a synthesis of small group communication concepts. These chapters reiterate the idea that students must first develop an understanding of the role they individually play in a small group.
  • Contains separate chapters on group development, roles, leadership, and communication climate, which are topics either superficially discussed in many textbooks or combined as part of another chapter in other textbooks. Addi­tionally, the task chapter distinguishes between decision making and problem solving processes, a distinction not made in many textbooks.
  • Contains helpful in-chapter pedagogy:  Each chapter begins with a case study, followed by 5 learning objectives, the chapter content, 5-7 discussion questions, a list of the key terms (with the definition of each term included) identified in the chapter, and a list of the references cited.
  • Several chapters contain at least one self-report measure students can complete. These measures (e.g., the Verbal Aggressiveness scale) reiterate the point that for students to become effective group members, they must first develop an understanding of the role they individually play in a small group. By completing these measures, along with the appropriate debriefing questions, students can think about what they bring to any small group experience.
  • Because this introductory textbook is not intended for a sole performance course, chapters on public presentations, meetings, and agendas are not included. Instead, an appendix on presentational speaking is included should instructors decide to incorporate an element of presentational speaking into the course.