Although science and math are key to success in today’s business world, an introduction to small group communication course should be mandatory for all students. Often times, students are not equipped with good interpersonal skills upon graduation from college. Communication classes help improve the soft skills, and courses that teach small group communication help students prepare for a global economy.
Most college introductory courses are large survey style classes that never encourage small group communication. Students attend class take notes, and then take tests. As a form of communication in itself, introductory classes shouldn’t be taught that way. A well designed course would include two parts:
1. The theoretical concepts of small group communication – Through readings, lectures and in-class activities, the students would begin to understand the group communication process.
2. Practicum – The class is broken into small groups that must solve an assigned problem.
Small group communication texts and readings might include publications such as, “The Fundamentals of Small Group Communication," by Dr. Scott Myers and Carolyn M. Anderson. The course would also include articles from journals and other textbooks that may be specific to small group communication classes or may be edited for other disciplines, such as Psychology or Sociology.
Small group communication projects can be designed for a variety of situations that will help the student use this new found knowledge and skills in real world situations. Some ideas for practicum include:
- Lost on the Moon – The group must work together to get back to earth.
- Working with Different Cultures – A group of culturally diverse students use their unique perspectives and communication skills to find consensus on a particular issue or problem.
- The Workplace – The students use these communication skills to work through a particular workplace situation. This could be a common issue such as workplace gossip, morale, discrimination, or harassment.
- A Sales Team – Much of today’s business world requires strong sales teams, so creating a sales team that must use small group communication skills to strategize, execute and sell a product teaches applicable skills to the class.
Even in a world dominated by the Internet, texting, and mobile computing, communication in small groups is key to success in the new economy. Whether people are conducting virtual meetings that include participants worldwide, or whether a new manager is learning to communicate with staff, the ability to listen, talk, and find consensus in a more intimate setting is a very valuable soft skill that corporations and successful businesspeople will value in their employees and partners.
For those who already have a college degree, a course in small group communication is an excellent way to enhance adult learning in a way that will be immediately useful and valuable.