The group I observed was a teen dating violence prevention group. It was held at A High School. The purpose of this group was to educate adolescents about domestic violence. The facilitator’s goal was to teach the adolescents about healthy relationships, unhealthy relationships, types of abuses, various red flags of an abuser, and provide important resources for those who may be going through a domestic violence relationship.
In the group, there were about ten members. They were all males and sophomores in high school. Their age ranged from 15 to 17 years old. The population in the group was primarily Hispanics. The group was held in a classroom during 5th period, which lasts about 50 minutes. Every Tuesdays, two facilitators from X Agency would go to the high school and teach two different class sessions. One facilitator would take all the females in one room and the other facilitator would take the males in another room. In the male group that I observed, the teacher was always present in the classroom. This was the facilitator’s first session with a new group of students.
The facilitator, Kim, first started off introducing herself to the class. She spoke briefly about the types of services that were provided at X Agency. She discussed about the different topics that the students would be learning throughout the 8-week session in the program. Then, Kim asked the group if they had any rules that should be applied within the group. Many students were very responsive to Kim’s question. She then talked a little bit about confidentiality.
She discussed about how everything the group talked about stays within the group, unless the person disclosed that he or she was going to hurt someone, someone was hurting him or her, or he or she is being abused. Kim told the students that she would be mandated to report those three things. Kim did an activity with the students where the students would have to come up with a food name that had the same letter as their first name. Kim brought in a variety of colored paper and the students were to choose one colored paper of their choice.
On the paper, the students were to write their food names along with their real name and draw some things that represented themselves. Kim walked around the room and created conversations with some of the students. Some of the students were unable to come up with a food name. When this happened, Kim would ask the student what his name was and then ask the rest of the class for any ideas.
The students were very approachable and helpful. This activity took about 20 minutes. Everyone participated in the activity and seemed to really enjoy it. After the students were finished with their project, they had to tape it on a large butcher paper that was placed on the chalkboard. Kim explained to the students that the reason she wanted them to come up with a food name was because it would be easier for her to remember their names. After that activity, Kim asked the group some questions about what they would like to learn during these sessions. She wanted to know some of the things that the students would be interested in or may have learned already.
She told the students that this group was all about them, and she would do the best she can to take in their ideas. Some of the students asked if they could talk more about girls and understanding some of the traits girls have. Kim had a question box, where students would write down any questions, ideas, thoughts, or comments they have that sometimes they may feel uncomfortable saying in front of the group. It would be completely anonymous, and the facilitator would normally discuss about it the following week. Afterwards, it was time for the students to go to their next class. Kim had all the students drop in their index cards for the question box.
Throughout my observation, I felt that the facilitator’s leadership style was in between authoritarian style and democratic style. In the beginning of the session, Kim’s leadership style was more authoritarian because she was discussing about the program and the agency. I noticed that when other people were talking, she would stop talking and asked the students if they wanted to share something to the class. Other times, if other students were talking amongst themselves, Kim would stop and let them know that she was not going to talk over them. As the session went on, Kim started to have more of a democratic style.
She already had a whole agenda planned out for the session. After going over the classroom rules, she started becoming more interactive with the students. Within the group members, I’ve noticed that there were subgroups in the classroom. There would be a group of friends who would be having conversations with each other. Some other students were quieter and did what was told. Some of the members would shout out comments, and other members would start laughing. Some of the strengths of the group was that overall, it seemed like everyone got along.
Also, since all the group members were male, they probably felt more comfortable talking about certain topics and issues. Another strength was that these students were already familiar with each other, since they were in the same class. Most of them seemed to be very interactive with each other. The area the group needs to improve on is learning how to have side conversations with their friends. Even though the group is for the students, the students should learn and respect others who are talking. They could try to have fewer interruptions while others are speaking.
The facilitator’s strength was that she had everything planned out. She went with her agenda and everything seemed to flow smoothly for the most part. When the students were doing the food activity, the facilitator was very engaging with the students. She showed a lot of interest with what the students had to say. She also did a lot of active listening when the students gave her some suggestions and ideas. An area that might need improvement is the way she talks to the students. Sometimes I felt that she sounded more of a teacher rather than understanding the group members.
Since there was a teacher already in the classroom, maybe the teacher should be responsible for the disciplinary and not the facilitator. My concerns for this group is that some of the group members may have taken a similar program before and might end up being disruptive to the rest of the members. Most of the students seem to know a lot about domestic violence, and they may feel that the program is useless to them. I thought it was a great idea for the facilitator to ask the group members about what sort of things they would want to discuss about in the program.
The facilitator acknowledged the group members’ thoughts and ideas, which I thought was very important. Group work seems to be more effective than individual work in certain ways. In one study, a researcher wanted to find out about the creativity between small groups and individuals (Moore, 2000). He had small groups working together and individuals working alone. Within the study, groups and individuals were given the same two paintings to examine. They were also given a questionnaire, which had questions about the paintings.
The researcher wanted to see which one would produce more ideas and creativity for the paintings. Results showed that the groups came up with more ideas and details about the paintings than the individuals. Since there were more people in the group, more brainstorming were involved (Moore, 2000). Martell and Borg conducted a study on individuals versus groups on behavioral rating accuracy (1993). Researchers were interested in seeing if groups working together would remember more than individuals do.
The groups had an advantage over the individuals because more members were involved, which means they can compare notes. Also, another advantage for doing group work was critically analyzing a situation, and in this case, a behavior. Results indicated that the groups had a higher accuracy in answering the questions than the individuals. The main reason was because the group members were able to discuss about it and compare their thoughts, whereas an individual only had one idea (Martell & Borg, 1993). These are one of the great benefits of group work. More ideas would be brought upon and could also have other people think about a certain idea or situation in a different way.
ReferencesMartell, R. F. & Borg, Mae, R. (1993). A comparison of the behavioral rating accuracy of groups and individuals. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(1), 43-50. Moore, R. M. (2000). Creativity of small groups and of persons working alone. The Journal of Social Psychology, 140(1), 142-143.