Session 12. Construction of earthen block molds: a focus on group dynamics
Step 1. (5 minutes)
Step 2. (5 minutes)
Step 2. (5 minutes)
* Each group should utilize one of the three possible dimensions given for individual mold construction.
* An attempt should be made to work cooperatively with the active participation of all group members.
Step 3. (1 hour)
Step 4. (15 minutes)
Step 5. (15 minutes)
Step 6. (1 hour)
Step 7. (10 minutes)
Step 8. (10 minutes)
Step 9. (10 minutes)
Step 10. (15 minutes)
Also encourage the groups to recall examples of the decision-making styles used within their groups during the construction of the molds.
Step 11. (20 minutes)
* Reconvene the groups and ask group members to share their views on the decision-making styles used by their group and the extent of cooperation within the group.
* Record their responses on newsprint.
* When several generalizations have been recorded, the session should end by reminding the participants that what remains to be done is for them to apply these generalizations.
EARTHEN BLOCK MOLDS
There are both individual and gang molds and are usually constructed from 2" x 4" (5 x 10cm) or 1" x 4" (2.5 x 10cm) lumber. Size of the blocks vary in accordance with end use. A mold of 4" x 12" x 18" would produce a block weighing approximately 50 lbs. and having a volume of 1/2 cubic foot.
Following are the most commonly used interior dimensions for mud block molds.
EFFECTIVE GROUP SURVEY
Group leaders, group facilitators and group members may sometimes want to assess the group's capability for working productively. This survey can be used by one or many, with the results posted and discussed toward the end of a meeting.
Directions: Circle the letter opposite each item on the survey below that best describes the group's interactions.
The scale used is:
A - All group members
During this (or the most recent) session, how many group members, including yourself:
Reprinted from Systematic & Objective Analysis of Instruction Training Manual. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 1970.
THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
We all live and work in groups and undoubtedly have experienced difficulty in arriving at group decisions. Some groups tend to break down when confronted with a decision for which a consensus is required. Others get bogged down in the interminable discussion of minor points or irrelevant side issues. Still others seek escape from their anxiety in Robert's Rules of Order, voting or calling upon the "chairman" to establish control.
Dr. Kenneth Benne (1960) has analyzed the prevalent reasons for the difficulty groups have in making decisions and has identified the following six blocks to decision making in groups.
1. Conflicting Perception of the Situation
If group members view the problem at hand in different ways, communication can be impeded, resulting in a breakdown of the group.
2. Fear of Consequences
The possible outcomes of an impending decision can overwhelm a group Outside pressures on individuals or on the entire group may exert a paralyzing effect on its ability to come to a decision.
3. Conflicting Loyalties
Every group member belongs to a number of different groupings than the one he may presently be engaged in. These multiple memberships can operate as hidden agendas or conflicting pressures within the decision-making group.
4. Interpersonal Conflict
Personal differences or personality clashes can provoke defensiveness, antipathy and biased discussion, preventing a sound, fair decision from being made.
5. Methodological Rigidity
Many groups are so frozen into Robert's Rules of Order or similar rigid methods for decision making that they are prevented from inventing or using other methods when the nature of the decision calls for one (e.g., con 5 ensue).
6. Inadequate Leadership
When the entire group does not share the leadership functions and relies too heavily on a designated leader (who may or may not be sufficiently skilled), then no group decision can be made and the commitment and responsibility to any decision is lessened.
TYPES OF DECISIONS
The following types of decision making are familiar to all of us:
A decision suggested by an individual to which there is no response (e.g., "I suggest we shelve this question.")
A decision made by an individual who assumes authority (e.g., "I think we should all write our ideas on the blackboard." --and proceeds to be the first to do so).
3. The Handclasp
A decision made by two or more members of the group who Join forces or decide the issue in advance (e.g., "That was a helpful comment, John. Yes, that's the course we're going to take.")
A decision made by pressure not to disagree (e.g., No one objects, do they?), or a decision made by pressure to agree (e.g., "We all agree, don't we?).
5. Majority Rule
A decision made by some form of voting.
A decision made by overt and unanimous consent, often without discussion.
A decision made by a form of voting which inquires, "Let's see where everyone stands." -- and then proceeds to tabulate the already expressed majority decision.
A decision made after allowing all aspects of the issue, both positive and negative, to be put forth to the degree that everyone openly agrees it is probably the best decision. This is not necessarily unanimity, but it constitutes a basic agreement by all group members.
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