Participants Unite Through Small Groups
Program size can oftentimes be large, and a structure is needed to make the program smaller, not only for the usual “smaller class size” sake of learning but also for the social fabric the students experience in the program. Students wanted to develop real relationships with others, be a part of the larger program community, and also be a part of a smaller group. Students cited the forming of groups within the large program as very effective for their development in a variety of ways. Learning happened for students when programs structured the learning community in smaller ways that allowed the students to interact with each other.
Actions. Programs enable participants unite through small groups in three significant ways. First, programs make the large learning community enrollment smaller through a structure that places students within smaller groups in the program. Second, programs allow students to shape and share in a group identity and work together to develop the small group, cluster, or team to which they belong. Third, programs utilize the small group as a laboratory to learn about leadership where students teach each other, engage in activities, work on projects, overcome challenges, and bond through developing as a team.
Effects on students. There are two major outcomes that students gain from programs that have the attribute of participants unite through small groups. First, students learn how to have a positive relationship with individual group members and how to develop relationships within a group. Second, students learn to practice collaborative leadership by identifying their own skills, taking on team roles, and utilizing skills of different people for a common group purpose and achieving as a team.