Group Dynamics

Group Dynamics in the Classroom
J. Resnick
Journal of Educational Sociology
Vol. 25, No. 2 (Oct., 1951), pp. 112-116
Published by: American Sociological Association
Article Stable URL:

In my previous post I wrote about the journey of teachers becoming a group. Now it’s time for reflecting on ways of maintaining group dynamics in the class. In the initial group formation period as a teacher I try to establish a non-threatening sense of a class identity and a learning community. I try to communicate the idea that we will learn and function together. I try to make use of activities including (1) ice-breakers, (2) learning names, (3) charting out expectations and rules of the class in order to know the students but also to foster positive intergroup/peer relations. Therefore, I often move students around so that they have different partners in group work. In “Group Dynamics in the Language Classroom” Dörnyei and Murphey (2003) they suggest that is important for students to ask themselves “Do I like myself in this class”. I ask this question to myself as the teacher as well and I have to say that it helped a lot. Ehrman and Dörnyei modeled the group development in learner groups in 4 developmental stages which are
1. Group formation (getting to know each other and breaking the ice). It’s claimed that teachers’ role is to establish a friendly climate, manage group anxiety, clarify group goals and project enthusiasm (p.51).
2.Transition (negotiating trough the storm). Teachers need to manage conflicts in a patient manner and maintain the essence of group while allowing room for the group to test its limit. Such a fine balance…! Isn’it?

It is also highly relevant to language education because the success of classroom learning is very much dependent on how students relate to each other, what the classroom climate is like, what roles the teacher and the learners play and, more generally, how well students can cooperate and...