Western Kentucky University

Group Dynamics of Classes - Tips - FaCET

Group Dynamics of Classes

Tip Sheet No. 18

From the CTL workshop

Dean May, Allied Health

Feb 15, 1996

1. Both teacher and student share responsibility for creating a positive classroom environment. The "feel" (warm or chilly) of a class is not entirely in the control of the teacher. Sometimes only a few students with strong personalities can dictate the dynamics and level of interaction in an entire classroom.
2. Student confidence is important in their deciding to participate.
3. Upper-level courses are a bit easier, when it comes to facilitating positive interaction (as opposed to introductory classes).
4. Three factors contribute to classroom environment: 1 ) task dimensions, 2) relationship dimensions, 3) interactional dimensions.
5. Personal interaction, e.g., conversing before class, plays a big role in reducing student resistance.
6. Conveying immediacy (psychological closeness) reduces the "chilly" environment and resistance in the classroom. Immediacy may also backfire.
7. Immediacy is conveyed through head nods, smiles, eye contact, vocal expressiveness, leaning forward, purposeful gestures, using "us" not "you," etc.
8. According to students, some teacher "misbehaviors" that affect classroom environment include: absence, tardiness, keeping overtime, early dismissal, straying from the subject, confusing lectures, unprepared, deviating from the syllabus, being late returning work, sarcasm put downs, verbally abusive, negative appearance, not knowing the subject, etc.

For more information about this workshop, contact the CTL staff or any of the following individuals who attended: E.T. Busch, S. Walton, Tony Singleton, Sarah Caverly, Bridgette Harper.


The Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching
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