Friday, February 4, 2011

Roles People Play in Small-Group Discussion: Self-serving Roles

Question: How can teachers prepare students for successful and productive small-group discussion?

Answer: An excerpt from my book Teaching English, How To…., Xlibris, 2004.

There are 18 roles that people can play in small-group discussions as suggested by David M. Litsey, Copyright by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with Permission. The roles are labeled “Maintenance,” “Task Roles,” and “Self-serving roles.” I have already covered the Maintenance and task roles. Here are the “self-serving roles,” roles that pretty much prevent the group from achieving its goals.

Self-Serving Roles
(1) Dominator: Interrupts, embarks on long monologues, is overpositive, tries to lead group, asserts authority, is autocratic, monopolizes.

(2) Blocker: Interferes with the progress of the group by rejecting ideas; takes negative attitude on all suggestions, argues unduly, is pessimistic, refuses to cooperate.

(3) Deserter: Withdraws in some way; is indifferent, aloof, excessively formal; daydreams, doodles, whispers to others, wanders from the subject.

(4) Aggressor: Struggles for status, boasts, criticizes; deflates ego or status of others.

(5) Recognition-seeker: Exaggerated attempt to get attention by boasting or claiming long experience or great accomplishments.

(6) Playboy type: Displays a lack of involvement in the group process by horseplay, inappropriate humor, or cynicism.

Comment: ‘Fess up. You have all played these roles at some time in your scholastic lives, haven’t you? Discussing these self-serving roles will probably be more fun than the positive roles. RayS.

Next blog: Familiarizing students with the group discussion roles.

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