University of Alicante, Department of Analytical Chemistry, Nutrition and Food Sciences (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Page: 8283 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.1929
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Group dynamics can be defined as the social interactive process where different people interact and behave in a team environment. The nature of these groups can be quite varied, from very small to large, including internet discussion groups or fellow workers (1). In the university environment, group dynamics can be applied to novel students with the aim of developing competencies related to leadership, decision making or team management, which are very valuable to join the professional world. Working in groups allows students to achieve their objectives in complex tasks in less time than that needed for the individual acquisition of main competencies related to the first year of a university degree. This study, which has been focused on students in the Chemistry degree. Students involved as group members also develop collaboration and leadership roles while favouring their interaction within the team. The effective communication between them was also improved after performing these dynamics.

It was observed that some students did not participate actively in the group dynamics. Some strategies were considered to allow the whole team to move forward. In a first stage, the coordinator of these activities tried to find a solution after talking with the passive student. In those cases when the individual meeting was unsuccessful, the next step was focused on involving the entire group by talking together. It is important that the passive individual could share his/her concerns resulting in strengthening the compelling assignment. People in charge of these activities should consider a priority to get cohesive groups by guiding them towards an efficient performance, fostering interpersonal relationships and improving their academic yield. As a result, some students indicated that these dynamics helped them to win confidence in themselves and their partners. An informal survey performed among students allowed getting some interesting conclusions. One of the main outputs of these dynamics resulted in observing the different roles adopted by students: the leader, who set goals and distribute the work; the friend, who makes sure that each group member is participative; the clown, who keeps the energy light improving the group atmosphere; the genius, who knows a lot about the topic. Finally, another sometimes underestimated but important role is the person who is usually underappreciated.

In summary, group dynamics are an excellent tool to train undergraduates in acquiring competencies to provide them adequate skills to be integrated into work teams and to be able to manage and lead teams (2). The results obtained in this study have shown that most of the students participated actively, resulting in groups of highly motivated individuals with a clear picture of their goals and tangible evidence of their achievements. These dynamics are also an opportunity for individual success that can be extrapolated to their studies and could be considered within the framework of the overall degree goals. For these reasons, we consider that group dynamics are necessary elements in teaching and learning processes for novel students in the chemistry degree.

[1] Bernabeu, I. et al. (2013) Retos de futuro en la enseñanza superior: docencia e investigación para alcanzar la excelencia académica. 1163-1177.
[2] Forsyth, D. R. (2018). Group dynamics. Cengage Learning.
Group dynamics, competencies, fostering interpersonal relationships, Chemistry degree.