University of Coimbra (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 2482-2488
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
The objective of a group is to take advantage of different abilities, backgrounds, and interests (Tjosvold, 1986). Yet, building a group takes time and effort, requires interaction, motivation towards a shared goal, adaptation, and balance of individual needs and styles (Hanson & Lubin, 1988; Salas, 1969). A group has to deal with social-emotional issues and maturity changes. Darwin claimed that it is not the strongest, nor the most intelligent, of the species that survives, but the one that is the most adaptable to change (Megginson, 1963). Conflicts and change are part of the development process of a group and are inevitable. These conflicts and changes can include negative socio-emotional reactions such as tension, antagonism, and diminishing productivity, but they also have positive aspects as they help purge and reinvent the group.
What if, besides performance, other things are valued, such as the adaptability to other work conditions, the ability to surpass stormy moments frequently, and the easiness to work with other persons or change groups frequently? These are skills that are valued in professional contexts, so we would expect schools to be preparing students not only on how to work as a group, and overcome stormy moments, but also to deal with disruption, work with different leadership styles and group dynamics, and estrange the group even when it means leaving a comfort zone or leaving friends behind.
Our study departures from the idea that sometimes the disruption of a group can be good and desirable. With that in mind, our aim was to understand the impact of a pedagogical strategy to provoke the disruption of workgroups and the re-creation of new ones. With that purpose in mind, we have draw three research questions:

- Do workgroups tend to stabilize in terms of its members even if they do not working properly?
- Can nonsense games provoke group changes as well as pedagogically sound techniques can?
- Do the individuals appreciate being exposed to different colleagues and leadership styles, even if they had intended to keep working with their initial group?

We surveyed 315 trainees of b-learning courses of a training company with over 60.000 clients from 29 countries.
Our study shows that physical proximity and social relations are major determinants of the constitution of a group and that groups tend to keep unchanged even if there are signs of conflicts and even if some participants would prefer to change groups. Our study has also showed that a nonsense game and a serious game intended to have participants leave their groups and re-aggregate by common working interests, were effective tools in generating group disruptions. Both these strategies have provoked group changes and increased satisfaction without provoking conflicts or a sense of imposed change.
The results of our study suggest that a succession of disruptions can be used to deal with workgroup problems and promote adaptation to change.

Hanson, P. G., & Lubin, B. (1988). Team building as group development. In W. B. Reddy & K. Jamison (Eds.), Team building: blueprints for productivity and satisfaction (pp. 76-78). Alexandria, VA: NIABS.
Megginson, L. C. (1963). Lessons from Europe for American business. Southwestern Social Science Quarterly, 44(1), 3-13.
Salas, E. (1969). Team training and performance. Science Agenda, 6 (1), 9-11.
Tjosvold, D. (1986). Working together to get things done. Massachusetts: Lexington Books.
b-learning, disruption, groups, innovation.