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North Idaho College • Coeur d'Alene • Communication & Fine Arts • Communication

Small Group Communication COMM-236

  • Spring 2013
  • Section 01
  • 3.0 Credits
  • 01/14/2013 to 05/16/2013
  • Modified 01/04/2013

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
    ~Margaret Mead

Contact Information

Instructor:  Donald J. Kinsey M.A.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (208) 769-5918

Office: BOS 222

Office Hours: Monday 9-10; other times by appointment.

Meeting Times

This hybrid course meets:

Monday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. in Boswell 220

Wednesday group meetings are mandatory, however your groups meet individually and determine the time and place as well as the attendance policy. 

This course also meets on the Internet, as well as alternate locations, due to a service oriented approach and group dynamics.

Meeting times are tentative and may be modified by groups or the instructor.


This course is designed to present the fundamentals of small group communication in such a way that the student actually experiences the small group process and evaluates his/her own and other's behaviors for success. The course will combine theory and practical application. Lecture: 3 hours per week



Isaacs, William. Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together: A Pioneering Approach to

     Communicating in Business and in Life. New York: Currency, 1999. Print

This text is also available in KIndle and on the Amazon book store.


General Course Outcomes

At the completion of this course the student should be able to:

  • Identify the variables that contribute to an effective and an ineffective small group
  • Develop interpersonal communication competence in small group setting
  • Apply conceptual ideas about effective small groups


Grade Distribution (in Points Earned)
A = 900-1000                      B = 800-899
C = 700-799                        D = 600-699
F = below 599


  • Grades reflect the merit of a student’s performance. Work that meets the minimum requirements of the assignment will earn a grade of “C.”  To receive a higher grade, you must exceed the minimum requirements by demonstrating creativity and mastery of the material that is above and beyond the "average" effort.
  • Final grades will be distributed according to the grade scale listed above. Final grades will not be "curved".  Remember, every point counts!
  • It is your responsibility to keep track of your point totals. If at any time you challenge a grade, it should be addressed within one week of receiving said grade. Grades will not be reassessed or changed after the first week has passed.


Assignments and Point Distribution

Individual Assignments

Points Possible

Your Score

Activities & Quizzes



Exams (2 X 100 pts. ea.)



Group Construction Paper



Group Reflection Paper



Group Dynamics Paper



Individual Participation



Individual Total:



Group Assignments


Group Agendas and Minutes



Project Proposal



Small Group and Film Response






Group Capstone Presentation



Final Written Report



Group Total:



Grand Total:



Course Policies

Being present in class and participating with your group not only allows students to practice and refine their communication,  listening, and critical evaluation skills, but also provides a wide array of opportunities from which to learn. Therefore, consider the following policy:

  1. An absence is an absence is an absence. I do not distinguish between “excused” or “unexcused” absences. Prearranged college-supported activities need to be cleared in writing with your instructor prior to the events, and such absences do not excuse a student from completing assigned work on time.
  2. Late arrivals and early departures from class are disruptive to all. None of these are excused, and three late arrivals or early departures will be converted into one absence, etc.
  3. If you miss 3 classes, you will fail this course.  It is advised you attend every meeting since your presence in class is how you will earn participation points.

The research clearly indicates regular attendance maximizes your potential to achieve academic success, which should be the goal of all students and instructors.


Written Assignment Guidelines:
 All assignments prepared outside of class must be typewritten and submitted in hard copy, unless instructed otherwise. They should be in a standard format including 12 point font, double spacing, and 1 inch margins. In the case of multiple pages, the paper must be stapled.

Late Assignments:
Deadlines are imposed to allow a reasonable amount of time to complete assignments and for feedback to be received in a timely manner. Assignments may be turned in any time before the due date and must be turned in no later than the class meeting in which they are due (missing class does not excuse a student from turning in an assignment on the due date).

Cell Phone Policy:
Cell phones shall not be used for any purpose during class time. Any student with a cell phone in hand or on his or her desk during class time will be asked to leave class and will be counted absent for that day. This policy applies during student presentations as well as during lecture and discussion. Any student using a cell phone during an exam will receive a zero on that exam and may be subject to disciplinary action by North Idaho College.

Small Group Credo

Groups generally develop due to similarities and interests that are common among group members.  For instance, each of you joined this class because you have some interest in communication as a discipline; whether it be the credits or the content you are interested in, we shall soon find out.  

Another thing that brings a small group together is difference.  For instance, people join political groups because of their differences and then are asked to work together. Differences can be found even when other members’ goals or ideas are in common with your own. Diversity is the key to an interesting life. What good would it be if there was only one flavor of ice cream?  We need to value the interests of diversity to be successful in our groups, and in general, this class. Maintain a posture of "curiosity and interest in the task at hand" rather than an "ere of suspicion and conflict" as you maneuver yourself through this content.  If you are fully engaged in this process, you will clearly see the benefits by the end of this course. It is our difference, which, in the end, will prove to be your best asset. 

With this said, we need to understand that conflict will arise and we will need to deal with it.  For this to happen, we must also understand that conflict is not necessarily a bad path to a reasonable outcome. 

Because of this, some policies must be set into place so that we can navigate through the curriculum: 

  1. Members must be willing to communicate and share ideas, information, and perspectives with their group(s).
  2. Group members should treat their fellow group members with respect and consideration.  
  3. Group members should use their best critical thinking skills when they evaluate information, ideas, and proposals in a group. 
  4. Members must demonstrate a commitment to their group. 
  5. This class is a community of learning and as such needs to be respected by all students.  Damaging the integrity of the group process is unacceptable so each student must make a complete effort to be a dedicated group participant.  NO SLACKERS! and no HAZING!
  6. When conflicts arise in the group, you need to handle them within the group.  I am a facilitator and not a referee.  I will participate in group dynamics only as much as I deem it is necessary for me to do so.  
  7. Groups have the right to eliminate or “fire” group members based this policy:
    1. The group member’s behavior has been deemed harmful to the success of the group.
    2. The group member has been confronted by the group and given the opportunity to change the disruptive behavior. This must be accomplished using positive communication and addressing the behavior not by using personal attacks.  
    3. An opportunity to change has been given and a reasonable amount of time has passed. 
    4. Phone calls, emails and other communicative efforts have been largely unsuccessful. 
    5. Both group and instructor deem firing as the only option for group success. The group will be responsible to provide historical documentation to support the firing process.  Items would include: Written warnings, group appraisals, communication logs, and attendance reports.

When a group member has been fired, he/she will have to withdraw from this course.  If it is too late to withdraw the student has failed to meet the objectives of this course and, as such, a failing grade will be assessed.


Small Group Communication: Schedule (tentative)


January 2013
Monday,  Jan. 14  – Introductions;  Review: syllabus, online course via Blackboard
Friday,     Jan. 18  – Form teams, team exercise/activity
Friday,     Jan. 25  – Team exercise/activity
Monday,  Jan. 28  – Part 1: WHAT IS DIALOGUE?


February 2012

Friday,     Feb.   1  – Group exercise/activity
Monday,  Feb.   4  – Introduce group project
Friday,     Feb.   8  – Team exercise/activity
Monday,  Feb.  11 –  Individual group construction papers due
Friday,     Feb.  15 –  Group project proposal due
Monday,  Feb.  18 –  Presidents Day Holiday NO SCHOOL
Friday,     Feb.  22 –  Group exercise/activity


March 20012
Friday,     Mar.    1  – Group exercise/activity
Monday,  Mar.    4  – Part 3: PREDICTIVE INTUITION  Mid-term exam due

Friday,     Mar.    8 – Group project meetings
Monday,  Mar.   11 – Individual group dynamics papers due
Friday,     Mar.   15 – Group project meetings
Monday,  Mar.   18 – Part 4: ARCHITECTURE OF THE INVISIBLE
Friday,     Mar.   22 – Group project meetings
Monday,  Mar.   25 – Discussion/Lecture

Friday,     Mar.   29 – Group exercise/activity


April 2012

Monday,   Apr.     1 – SPRING BREAK   Have fun, be safe!
Friday,      Apr.      5 – SPRING BREAK   Have fun, be safe!

Monday,   Apr.     8 – Part 5: WIDENING THE CIRCLE
Friday,      Apr.   12 – Group projects must be completed by this weekend
Monday,   Apr.   15 – Individual group reflection papers due
Friday,      Apr.   19  – Small Groups & Film
Monday,   Apr.   22  – Small Groups & Film
Friday,      Apr.   26  – Small Groups & Film
Monday,   Apr.   29  – Capstone Presentations (Group 1)


May 2012

Friday,     May     3  – Capstone Presentations (Group 2)
Monday,  May     6  – Capstone Presentations (Group 3)
Friday,     May    10  – CURRICULUM DAY NO SCHOOL
Monday,  May    13  – Final exam DUE 




Reading Schedule:


Weeks 1 & 2 – Part 1: WHAT IS DIALOGUE?

    Chapter 1:  A Conversation with a Center, Not Sides
    Chapter 2: Why We Think Alone and What We Can Do About It

    Chapter 3: The Timeless Way Of Conversation


    Chapter 4: Listening

    Chapter 5: Respecting

    Chapter 6: Suspending

    Chapter 7: Voicing 


    Chapter 8: Patterns of Action
    Chapter 9: Overcoming Structural Traps


    Chapter 10: Setting the Container
    Chapter 11: Fields of Conversation
    Chapter 12: Convening Dialogue
    Chapter 13: The Ecology of Thought


Weeks 9 & 10 – Part 5: WIDENING THE CIRCLE
    Chapter 14: Dialogue and the New Economy

    Chapter 15: Cultivating Organizational and System Dialogue

    Chapter 16: Dialogue and Democracy

    Chapter 17: Taking Wholeness Seriously

Additional Items

Division Policies

Student Responsibility
As outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, all North Idaho College students have both rights and responsibilities: Please access www.nic.ferpa.StudentCode/index.htm for complete information that pertains to this subject. For a complete explanation of the North Idaho College Statement on Academic Honesty & Academic Integrity please refer to Policy 5.06 & Procedure 5.06.01: 

Academic Integrity
Disruptive behavior in the class is not tolerated. To quote from the NIC "Student Code of Conduct," Article II, (found in the Student Handbook):

In order to carry out North Idaho College's Mission and to create a community of learners, the students, faculty, staff, and administrators must share common principles or values.  These values - which include honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility - make up academic integrity.

II.  Academic Dishonesty.
Violations of academic integrity involve using or attempting to use any method that enables an individual to misrepresent the quality or integrity of his or her work at North Idaho College.  These violations include the following:

Cheating:  using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study in any academic exercise.

Fabrication:  falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise.

Plagiarism:  knowingly representing the words, ideas or work  of another as one's own in an academic exercise.

Violation of Intellectual Property:  stealing, altering, or destroying the academic work of other members of the community or the educational resources, materials, or official documents of the college.

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty:  knowingly helping another to attempt to violate any provisions of this policy.

Our department strongly endorses the above code, believing that no learning can take place if a strong commitment to academic integrity is compromised. Any unethical behavior, including any violation of academic integrity or instance of plagiarism, may result in a grade of zero for an assignment in question or failure of the course.

Institutional Policies

Student Responsibilities

As students undertake to fulfill the obligations and duties outlined in this document, the college community of which they are a part undertakes to respect the basic freedoms of students. In recognition of students’ rights and dignity as members of the college, North Idaho College is committed to the principles found in the NIC Student Handbook.

Center for Educational Access/Disability Support Services

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, North Idaho College provides accommodations to eligible students who experience barriers in the educational setting due to learning, emotional / mental, physical, visual, or hearing disabilities.  Instructors will provide accommodations to students only after having received a Letter of Accommodation from the Center for Educational Access. 

If a student would like to request accommodations, he or she must contact the Center for Educational Access so that a Letter of Accommodation may be sent to the instructor.  Students requesting accommodations must contact the Center for Educational Access at the beginning of each semester.


By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You also understand that collection costs and legal fees will be added if the services of a collection agency are utilized.

If you are registered for a class and do not attend, you will still be liable for the tuition unless you drop the class.


Last day for students to withdraw from semester-length classes:

Instructor-Initiated Withdrawal: Instructors have the right to withdraw students for academic reasons up until the same date; in doing so, instructors must notify students through NIC e-mail within 48 hours of submitting documentation to the Registrar's office, and students have the right to appeal the instructor's decision. For more information, see the NIC Procedure:

Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy: All withdrawals, whether for individual classes, total withdrawal from school, or instructor-initiated are not considered to be satisfactory progress for financial aid.  See the Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy:

Additional withdrawal information:


An incomplete is assigned only if the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work to within three weeks of the end of the semester (or proportional length of time for a course of less than a semester in length).  Incompletes are issued only in cases of extenuating circumstances, such as severe illness or injury.  Incompletes are not issued in cases in which the student is simply unable to complete his/her work within the specified semester or session.  If a final grade of "I" is recorded, the instructor will indicate in writing to the Registrar what the student must do to make up the deficiency.  The instructor will indicate in the written statement what permanent grade should be entered if the Incomplete is not removed by the deadline.

All incomplete grades must be removed within six weeks after the first class day of the following term, excluding the summer session.  If the Incomplete is not removed by that date, the grade reverts to the grade indicated by the instructor's written statement authorizing the incomplete.

Discrimination and Harassment

North Idaho College has a zero tolerance policy for any acts of discrimination or harassment of any kind.  For more information, please see the NIC Student Handbook, Code of Conduct Article III and Article VIII. Compliance efforts with respect to these laws and regulations are the responsibility of each member of the campus community and are under the direction of the Dean of Students Office for Student Issues (2nd floor, Edminster Student Union Building, (208) 676-7156) and the Human Resources Office (Sherman Administration Building, (208) 769-3304) for employee issues.

Institutional Statement

DROP FOR NON-PAYMENT:  By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You will be dropped from classes if payment is not received by  5 p.m. Pacific Time on the third day of the semester. Students on the waitlist will be given the option to register for classes after students are dropped for non-payment.

REMOVAL FROM CLASS FOR NON-ATTENDANCE:  Attendance is based on your participation in this class. Failure to attend may result in your being removed from this class and may result in your financial aid award being reduced. You are responsible for confirming the accuracy of your attendance record.