Class Activity - Behavioral Analysis and Group Development

Topic area One of the key elements of a course is the selection of participants to form groups. This activity is preparatory to that process. This activity can also be classified as part of a "Personal Relationships" or "Workplace Issues" project.
Target audience Any assemblage that needs to be broken into groups.
Activity type Partially pre-class evaluation, followed by in-class discovery phase, finalized (possibly out of class) with the assignment of participants to groups.
Time required Ten minutes in advance of the class for each participant, and fifty minutes in class.
Attachments The Behavioral Analysis Self Evaluation Form
Additional materials 12 large sheets of newsprint that can be posted on the classroom walls for behavioral group activities; 4 marking pens; masking tape for holding up sheets.
Background needed to complete the assignment None
References TBA
Last modified 98/12/08

An in-class activity that enables the instructor to form working groups together with a brief understanding of the characteristics of colleagues and how these influence the working of the group.

Goals for the activity:

  1. To discover participant characteristics with a view to forming groups that will work on course projects such that the members complement each other's abilities and attributes.
  2. To understand how different people react to situations and how these will be "played out" in group activities.
  3. To create groups that have a diverse membership such that each can contribute effectively to work of the group.

Knowledge / skills / attitudes to be developed (behavioral objectives):
An understanding of personal traits and how to use the traits of others in the work of a group.

[Click here for a version that can used in class.]

  1. Prior to the class each student should complete the Behavioral Analysis Self Rating Form and determine their Hemisphere Dominance and Energy Orientation scores, and type (controller, analyzer, promoter, or supporter). Either have each student print out the evaluation from the web (i.e. the web page that is produced after the self test has been submitted) or an a 3x5 index card (with the their name on top).

  2. With the evaluations in hand, divide the class into groups that correspond to each of the four behavioral categories (controller, analyzer, promoter, or supporter), possibly in the four corners of the room. Post three newsprint then have them as a group prepare three newsprint sheets on the wall alongside each group. Provide them with a marker and ask them to select three "data gatherers" who will record their responses on the newsprint sheets. The individuals in each group should then answer the following two questions and create a tee-shirt with a logo for their group:

    While this is going on count the number of people in each group, and begin to develop a plan as to how to form groups. (See the next but one step.)

  3. Bring the class back together and then ask each data gatherer to report on the results of their survey. As each is presented compare their results to the positive "standard" and negative characteristics.

    Discuss the meanings and symbolism behind their tee-shirt designs and logos.

  4. Discuss the needs and opportunities for each behavioral type, and how it is necessary for members of a group to know each other's characteristics and what they must learn to be able to work together. Within each group (yet to be formed) participants should not be afraid to let the others know what their preferences are, and to discuss how they will work best on projects. Finally point the participants to the recommendations regarding how they must work one on one with each other.

  5. Create groups.

    [Comment: This process works best with working groups of size four. I have generally found that groups of five are about the limit that can be managed by students. Thus my plan is to create working groups of this size, which does not necessarily fit well with the four types indentified in this exercise. It would be nice if each group contained at least one of each type, but with no more than one controller. Obviously depending on how many are in the class and how many classified themselves in each type group will depend how many different types make up a working group. This step can be done in class if there are just the population of each type group is appropriate (i.e. there are just the right number of members of the controller type, etc.), otherwise it may be more seemly (politically correct) to do the assignment of participants to working groups outside of class. If the "out-of-class" scenario is followed then collect the Behavioral Analysis Self Test forms to use in the assignment. If done in-class then reassemble student's reports into their four type groups and choose one from each type group initally to form a working group.]

  6. Hand out sheets that describe the type characteristics and the ways of working with others. [Print from the web.]

  7. Have the groups meet together for the first time with the task of identifying their behavioral types, to establish an "infrastructure" for their activities based on their characteristics and to examine the ways in which they should interact with each other.

Assessing outcomes:
The outcome will be assessed as time goes by based on how well the groups work together. After the groups meet for the first time and interact they may be asked to give an organizational chart for their group with general job descriptions for each person. From this one should be able to assess how well they understood the the concepts.

Additional remarks:
This class activity was originally organized for us by a Human Resources specialist from a well known corporation. It was then in use in the company. We have been given permission to use the system, the algorithm, and the documentation without the need for acknowledgements. We are very grateful.

Author contact information:
J.A.N. Lee
Department of Computer Science
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg VA 24061-0106
Ph: (540) 231-5780

Last updated 98/12/09
© J.A.N. Lee, 1998.