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COMM 3940-A, Small Group Communication (CRN 709)

Spring 2019, TTh 11-12:15 p.m., IC-205


Professor: Peter Boltz, Ph.D. E-mail:


Office: Alumni House, upstairs.   Office Phone: 678-359-5257

Office Hours: MW 1:30-3:30 p.m., TTh 8-10 a.m. or by appointment.


Course Description: Working in small groups requires communication skills in building leadership, performing tasks, resolving conflicts and establishing norms. This course provides a foundation of theory, methods and skills for creating effective small groups and for becoming effective and ethical group members.


Course Objectives:  By the end of the semester you will

-- be able to intelligibly use the vocabulary of small group communication;

-- be aware of the dynamics and complexities of small group communication;

-- be able to positively manage conflict in small groups;

-- be able to use and understand agendas, discussion techniques, technological aids, decision methods, and public


-- be able to analyze, evaluate and critique small group effectiveness, decision making, interaction, and process;

-- and be able to examine theory and research in small group/team communication to enhance one’s communication



Textbook:             Working in Groups, Isa N. Engleberg and Dianna R. Wynn, 7th ed.




Exams:  A midterm exam and a final exam will be given, testing your knowledge of the concepts and information in the text and from the lectures. 


Group Work:  You will be required to fully participate as a group member in weekly group exercises.


Group Paper: Each group will be responsible for a paper due near the end of the semester.


Quizzes: You can expect to be quizzed on every assigned chapter. If a chapter is scheduled for a particular day, you must have read it before class. We will discuss chapters in class, but you are responsible to be knowledgeable about a chapter’s material even if it is not discussed in class.


Participation/Attendance: This component of your grade involves reading and knowing the assigned chapters, asking questions, being prepared for class discussions, writing peer critiques, orderly conduct in the class, and in-class critiques of student work. Attendance is the larger component of the grade, and frequent absences, tardies and early departures can have a serious negative impact on your semester grade.




1.  Papers:   All papers will be graded against professional and collegiate standards and will be typed.  They will follow the form explained by the professor. 


2.  Late Work: I don’t accept late work.


3.  Attendance Required:  Roll will be taken every class.  You are allowed two absences without penalty.  Additional absences will result in the loss of 7.5 points (i.e., each absence = the loss of 7.5 points from your attendance grade). 


4.  Tardiness: Chronically tardy students will lose 5 points from their attendance grade every time they are late for class or leave class early.


5.  Academic Dishonesty:  This includes but is not exclusively plagiarism and cheating. The penalty for this offense is failure of the assignment, of the course and/or further prosecution by the college. Ignorance is not a defense.


6.  Emailing: Students shall use their Gordon accounts that have the extension. Do NOT use D2L email. I check my email on a regular basis, but this does not guarantee immediate response if the message is time sensitive.


7.  Consultations: Grades are private and protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. I will discuss your grades only with you and in private.


8.  Keeping Track of Your Grade: I do not keep a running calculation of your semester grade. All of your graded assignments are returned to you, and you know the number of your absences, so at any given point during the semester you can calculate your grade. (See the grading section below.)


9.  If you are absent or tardy, you need to speak with a classmate about what you missed.


10.  I reserve the right to adjust this syllabus any time during the session. Students will be consulted and informed of changes during class periods.


11.  Cell phones, etc. will not be allowed for use in the classroom. If you are caught looking at your phone, you will receive a warning for the first offense. Subsequent offenses will cost 20 points each time from your attendance grade. If you look at your electronic device during a quiz or an exam, you will receive a zero on that quiz or exam.


12.  If you need academic accommodations for a disability, you need to make an appointment with student counseling. The number for that office is 678-359-5585.  


13.  Scantrons. You are required to purchase two packets of 12 Scantrons from the campus bookstore for use in this class for quizzes and exams. You will hand these packets in to me during class on the assigned day (see Assignment Due Dates below). Students who have not done this will not be allowed to take quizzes or exams.




Group Work                                                                                                       10 percent

Attendance                                                                                                           10 percent

Quizzes (average of all quizzes)                                                                     15 percent

Midterm exam                                                                                                   15 percent

Final Exam                                                                                                          20 percent

Group Paper                                                                                                       30 percent





90-100   A             80-89     B            70-79     C            60-69     D             <60         F




Jan. 15                                   Collect Scantrons

Feb. 26                                  Midterm exam

Mar. 4                                    Last day to drop without failing

Apr. 30                                  Group paper due

Final Exam                           May 8, 10:15 a.m.






Week 1                         

        Jan. 10                   Course introduction.

                                        Go over the syllabus.

Week 2

        Jan. 15, 17             Chapter 1: Introduction to Group Communication.

Week 3                                                                                 

        Jan. 22                   Components of Group Communication and Dialectics.

        Jan. 24                   Components of Group Communication and Dialectics.

Week 4                         

        Jan. 29, 31             Chapter 2: Group Development

Week 5                         

        Feb. 5, 7                Chapter 3: Group Membership

Week 6                         

        Feb. 12, 14            Chapter 4: Diversity in Groups

Week 7

        Feb. 19, 21            Chapter 5: Group Leadership

Week 8                         

        Feb. 26                  Midterm Exam. (Mar. 4 is the last day to drop without failing.)

        Feb. 28                  Consultations.

Week 9                                         

        Mar. 5, 7                Chapter 6: Verbal and Nonverbal Communication in Groups.

Week 10                      

        Mar. 11-15           Spring Break

Week 11                      

        Mar. 19, 21           Chapter 7: Listening in Groups.

Week 12                      

        Mar. 26, 28           Chapter 8: Conflict and Cohesion in Groups.

Week 13                      

        Apr. 2, 4                Chapter 9: Structured and Creative Problem Solving.

Week 14                      

        Apr. 9, 11              Chapter 10: Critical Thinking and Argumentation in Groups.

Week 15

        Apr. 16, 18            Chapter 11: Planning and Conducting Meetings.

Week 16                      

        Apr. 23, 25            Group work on final paper.

Week 17

        Apr. 30                  Last day of class. Group work on final paper.

Final exam                   May 8, 10:15 a.m.



Title IX

Gordon State College is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. If you (or someone you know) has experienced or experiences any of these incidents, know that you are not alone. All faculty members at Gordon State College are mandated reporters. Any student reporting any type of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking must be made aware that any report made to a faculty member under the provisions of Title IX will be reported to the Title IX Coordinator or a Title IX Deputy Coordinator. If you wish to speak with someone confidentially, you must contact the Counseling and Accessibility Services office, Room 212, Student Life Center. The licensed counselors in the Counseling Office are able to provide confidential support. Gordon State College does not discriminate against any student on the basis of pregnancy, parenting or related conditions. Students seeking accommodations on the basis of pregnancy, parenting or related conditions should contact Counseling and Accessibility Services regarding the process of documenting pregnancy related issues and being approved for accommodations, including pregnancy related absences as defined under Title IX.


ADA and 504

If you have a documented disability as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, you may be eligible to receive accommodations to assist in programmatic and/or physical accessibility. The Counseling and Accessibility Services office located in the Student Center, Room 212 can assist you in formulating a reasonable accommodation plan and in providing support in developing appropriate accommodations to ensure equal access to all GSC programs and facilities. Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations may assist you in meeting the requirements. For documentation requirements and for additional information, contact Counseling and Accessibility Services at 678-359-5585.


House Bill 280

For information regarding House Bill 280, see the University System of Georgia at the following link:


Religious Holidays

Gordon State College acknowledges that the academic calendar can sometimes conflict with major holidays from among our diverse religious traditions. If a student must miss class due to the observance of a religious holiday, that absence may be excused. To be excused, the student must inform his/her instructors before the absence and make alternate arrangements for any work due at the time of the absence. An excused absence for the observance of a religious holiday does not excuse student from responsibility for required course work.


Hightower Collaborative Learning Center & Library

The Hightower Collaborative Learning Center & Library offers Gordon State students specialized library research assistance. Students can meet with their personal librarians for one-on-one help in each discipline, major, or course to search and evaluate information sources effectively. Go to to schedule an appointment by clicking the Personal Librarian tab or click

on the Presentation Practice Room tab to make a reservation. For immediate help, call 678-359-5076 or stop by the Circulation/Check-Out Desk. You can also Ask A Librarian or drop by the Circulation/Check- Out Desk. Check the library’s web site for hours, Electronic Resources, and LibGuides (subject- or class- specific research guides).

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