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Small Group Communication Case Study

Can We Talk? Is a case based small group activity (6-10 students, 1 faculty facilitator) designed to promote thought, discussion and skill development regarding conflict management and problematic communication that can occur in clinical settings. Each case begins with a provocative, scene setting video. The module is embedded in PowerPoint, with questions posed to prompt discussion, followed by take home messages and suggested approaches. Users can pick amongst the case, selecting those that fit their curricular needs. The topics covered include: communicating with angry family members, unprofessional interactions between clinicians, initiating discussions about code status, dealing with hard to meet patient expectations, culture and health care decision making, disclosure of medical errors, and providing care outside the typical MD-patient relationship.

This module has been used in the following venues:
Skill development for 4th year medical students.
Skill development for medicine residents.
Skill development sessions at national and regional meetings of ACP.

In each case, the respondents reported that the sessions improved their awareness of the key issues raised and felt that their skills for addressing these types of situations was improved. The module showcases the power of video in promoting discussions and learning about communication/interpersonal skills. This proved true with students, residents and practicing MDs. Faculty facilitators have come from the following disciplines: Internal medicine (generalists, hospitalists and sub-specialists), Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics and Psychiatry. All have been capable of following the faculty guide and effectively leading small group discussions.

  1. To clearly establish that conflict and communication problems are common and difficult for anyone to address.
  2. To recognize the impact of stress, emotion and other interpersonal dynamics on effective communication.
  3. Provide a general framework for approaching challenging interpersonal exchanges.
  4. To develop skills for managing conflict amongst clinicians, patients & family members.
  5. To increase awareness and skill development to enhance culturally competent care.
  6. To increase awareness and skill development to enhance professional behavior.
  7. To increase skill development for addressing end of life issues.
  8. To refine skill development for disclosing medical errors.
  9. To provide participants with an opportunity for discussion/catharsis of related events that they may have experienced.
  • Charles Goldberg, MD: University of California, San Diego School of Medicine
  • Tomoko Tanabe, MD: Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine
  • Meropi Plato: University of California San Diego School of Medicine

None to report.

None to report.

 Small Group Communication

Speech 225

Fall 2004


Instructor:                   Dr. Alan E. Yabui

Office:                        R230C

Phone:               425-564-3083


Office Hrs:         9:30-10:20, other times TBA


Textbooks:        Tubbs, S. L. (2004). A Systems Approach to Small Group Interaction.  8th Ed. Boston: McGraw Hill.

                             Otsuka, J. (2002). When the Emperor was Divine. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Speech 225 is a Social Sciences distribution requirement course

and may not be used for Humanities at BCC.  (For transfer to

UW, this course may be used as either a Social Sciences or

Humanities course.)



            This course as presently formatted has been taught in this present format for the past nine years, therefore, you are going to experience what other students who completed this course accomplished through individual hard work and teamwork.

This course is designed to be a small group communication competence course.   You are expected to use the concepts discussed in class or discovered in your own research in your communication with other individuals in small group situations.  The student use of multiple perspectives and the creation of mutual co-created meanings through the communication process are the primary goals of this course.  Only you can make this happen! 

            Another goal of this class is the development of individual learning strategies with the objective of having each student becoming a self-directed learner.  This includes learning to use Toolbook Instructor as a tool in your learning strategies.  The computer multimedia project is designed into the course to provide a common group learning experience.  Developing computer skills are not the purpose of the course.  Learning how to communicate, collaborate and cooperate with others in a small group communication learning environment are the intended foci of the course.

            Your small group communication learning in this course will be experiential as well as academic.  You need to participate with your group members to make this course successful.  Use multiple means of staying in touch with your group members. 

            Have fun learning!!

Course Objectives:


1.  To develop small group communication competence and the ability to work with others in small group environments in multiple learning situations including working with others from different cultures.


2.  To develop confidence to work with others as a team and to complete a complex computer multimedia project, through coordination, trust, mutual respect, and personal advocacy toward accomplishing personal and group goals.


3.  To develop critical thinking and academic skills while reflecting on, analyzing, and using the various concepts studied in the course.


4.  To collaboratively learn in an open academic environment by listening and being exposed to multiple perspectives by communicating with people with different viewpoints. 


5.  To learn to negotiate a shared vision and to align creative energy toward group developed goals while working in different types of management and leadership situations.


6.  To participate and learn by mindfully engaging in dialog and discussion to formulate alternative solutions to solve “real time” group problems within the scope of the group’s goals.


7.  To experience the frustrations, group conflicts, and positive achievements that are a part of a group communication environment, and to work through the conflicts by positively applying strategies of conflict negotiations and intercultural communication to achieve individual and group learning goals.


 8.  To learn how to self-monitor individual learning by analyzing reading assignments, applying pertinent concepts to the group process, and by reporting individual learning in email learning journals.


9.  To learn how to analyze small group case studies in a small group setting.


10.  To use the Internet and Toolbook Instructor as learning tools in the course.


12.  To develop skills of a self-directed learner.






Grades: (Based on 5000 points)


            A         100--91 percent

B.                     90--81 percent

C.                    80--71 percent

D.                    70--61percent

F.            Less than 61 percent





Toolbook Multimedia Project                   1500 points

            Email Learning Journals                              900 points

            Case Study Analysis                                1000 points

            Class participation                                    1600 points      

Total                                                            5000 points

Students will be evaluated on the following assignments:


a. E-mail Learning Journals. You are required to turn-in nine (9) Internet learning journals, one per week, beginning the second week of class.  Send your journals to In order to maximize the utility of the learning journals and assigned readings, you are encouraged turn-in e-mail journals on a timely basis.  The email journal must have all three parts: summary, analysis and lessons learned.   This is not a compliance exercise.  The learning value of each journal is based on the depth of the content analysis, and the self-monitoring learning report.  Support your article summaries by expanding your discussion by relating the concepts in the articles to your group activities, i.e., what you did well and what were some problem areas (if any).  Conclude your journal by writing two lengthy paragraphs on “what you learned doing the journal activity.”  Be specific in your discussion about what you learned, since this is your feedback to yourself about how you are progressing in this course.  If you would like to address specific issues to me, write your comments after the “lessons learned” section.  I will respond to your issues in a timely manner. Journals that are turned in late will be assessed penalty points.  To get full credit for journals, all nine journals must be turned in.  No journals will be accepted after the last day of the course!!  Points: 900.


            Journal 1, Reading Overview, Chapter 1 (2 Articles)

            Journal 2, Reading Overview, Chapter 2 (2 Articles)

            Journal 3, Reading overview, Chapter 3 (2 Articles)

            Journal 4, Reading Overview, Chapter 4 (2 Articles)

            Journal 5, Reading Overview, Chapter 5, (2 Articles)

            Journal 6, Reading overview, Chapter 6, (2 Articles)

            Journal 7, Reading Overview, Chapter 7, (2 Articles)

            Journal 8, Reading Overview, Chapter 8, (2 articles)

Journal 9, Self-assessment on your own and group’s performance in                                 Milestone 4—Self-assessment of your individual participation                     and small group communication learning.


The format for the Journals:  (For each of the articles in the chapter Readings: Overview)


Author and Article Title


 Summary:  State the thesis and summary at least three major points associated the thesis in the article.


Analysis:  Provide SPECIFIC examples for each of the major points you mention in the summary.  After groups are formed, at least one example must be from your group’s weekly activity.


Lessons learned:  Provide feedback to yourself in this section by reporting in the first person, what you learned from doing the article’s summary and your analysis of the summary.  (This paragraph should state “What I learned…”



NOTE:  Journals are due on the first class day of the week.  Late journals will be penalized points.  All 9 journals must be submitted for receive the 900 points.


Small Group Project:  Each group will develop a computer multimedia project using Click2Learn Toolbook Instructor 8.5 or higher.  Each team will determine the theme of the project.  The grade for this project will be incremental, i.e., you will be graded on the process of development and how well you work as a cohesive group using the principles of small group communication you will be exposed to through out the course.  There will be five major process milestones that will be graded.  Each of the milestones will be discussed in class.   Upon completion of the Milestone oral presentations, each group member will be awarded the designated points for the milestone based on presentation performance.  For Milestones 3, 4, and 5, participation and content points will be awarded based on the content completeness and professionalism of the group’s presentation.


The milestones are:

Milestone 1:  Initial project theme.  Form team, identify team name, specify group goals and objectives, assign team assignment, draft group plan, and project a schedule of activities to complete the project (coordination, resources, and feedback strategies).   A PowerPoint presentation is mandatory for Milestone #1.  Groups must turn-in a paper copy of the PowerPoint presentation to receive full credit for this milestone.  The presentation should include the title of the project, a brief description of the project (100 words), the group’s goals and objectives for doing the project, and a team work plan from milestone #1 to #5. Points 100.


Milestone 2:  Learning Instructor as a group activity, feedback on plan, modification of schedule, coordination with other groups, collection of information, script writing, accomplishing tasks identified in plan.  Groups must demonstrate that they have a digital portfolio (Toolbook or PowerPoint) with at least two digital images.  Group must also turn in a “signed” (by all group members) project written outline with references.  Grades for this portion of the project will depend on proof of research.  A written project outline, including a reference page containing at least ten (10) references must be turned in at the start of the oral presentation.   The outline must be signed by all team members.  Each group must use Toolbook Instructor in this presentation.  The presentation will have the following: Title page, the project outline, group’s work plan from milestone 2 to milestone 5, at least one imported graphic image, and the ability to navigate from page one to page two.  Points 200.


Milestone 3:  Development of a Storyboard to measure progress of the project.  Each group will present their storyboard to the class.  The grade on this portion will be based on the group’s ability to demonstrate non-linearity in their storyboard, and connectivity to the resources collected in Milestone 2.  Poster boards or “butcher paper” presentation demonstrating, project theme, navigation, page links, and references are a must for the storyboard to be graded as “complete.”   Additionally, and least one page of a content “chapter” (one page of the storyboard) must be presented in detail. On this page, the group must show a listing of all (word, visual, audio) files used on this part of the project.  (It is recommended that all project pages have a listing of all the digitized files used.)  The storyboard must show that the group’s Toolbook multimedia project may be exited in “two clicks.”  The storyboard must be signed by all members of the group.  Points: 300


Milestone 4:  Initial preview of project (the goal for this milestone is approximately 80 percent of the project completed).  Project must be on a CD ROM, and presented in R201 for the project to be graded as 80 percent completed.  (Journal 9 is a report on each team member’s participation in this milestone.)   Points:  400


Milestone 5:  Final phase project presentation (100 percent

Completed.)  The completed project must “stand alone,” i.e., the user of your saved final project will be able to comprehend your content without you being present.  It also must “be ready for a production run,” i.e., no spelling and grammar errors, text descriptions are in narrative format, and all multimedia used in the project are functional.) Project must be saved as a *.exe” file.   A final copy (CD) of the completed project must be turned in to the Instructor.  Points: 500




Case Studies:


            On the first days of each academic week as indicated below, there will be a 10-minute quiz at the beginning of the period on the case study indicated.  Each quiz is worth 100 points except the last two which are 200 points.  Quizzes will address each student’s preparedness to discuss the case study assigned for the week.  The three basic questions will be (1) “What is the major problem addressed in the case study?” (2) “Who are the major actors” of the case?”, and (3) “What are the causes of the problem?”  Alternative solutions will be discussed in class.



            Oct 19 (Tues) Case Study 3, Page 93

            Oct 25 Case Study 4, Page 143

            Nov 1 Case Study 5, Page 193

            Nov 8 Case Study 6, page 250

            Nov 15 (Tues), Case study 7, Page 283

            Nov 22 Case Study 8 page 316,

            Nov 29 Small Group Process, Chapter 10 (200 points)

            Dec 6 Small Group Process, Chapter 10 (200 points)


Class Participation:   Attendance will be taken randomly throughout the quarter.  Each unexcused absence will be a deduction of 100 points from the student’s grade.  Attendance and classroom group discussion is critical in learning small group communication and team building in this course  Class participation points will be also be assigned to supplement awards  for group presentations classroom discussions.  On days of group project presentations, class attendance is mandatory.  Fifty percent of the group points will be subtracted from each student’s group presentation grade for any unexcused absence during group oral presentations.  Points: 1600 points.


Schedule of Assignments:


Sep 27—Oct 1         Chapters 1, 9, 10.  Email address, self-concept email

                                    Case Study 1, 2, 9, 10


Oct 4—8                    When the Emperor was Divine (Chapters 1 and 2, Oct 4; Chapters 4 and 5, Oct 5, Chapter 5, Oct 6).  Form project groups (Oct 7)



Oct 11--15                 Case Study 3, Chapter 3, form groups Jan 22, Journal 2                                                (Milestone 1, Oct 13, 14)


Oct 18                        No class


Oct 19--22                 Case study 4, Chapter 4, Journal 3

Oct 25--29                 Case Study 5, Chapter 5, (Milestone 2, Oct 27, 28), Journal 4


Nov 1--4                    Case Study 6, Chapter 6, Journal 5


Nov 5                         No class


Nov 8--12                  Case Study 7, Chapter 7, (Milestone 3, Nov 10, 11),

                                    Journal 6


Nov 11                       Veteran’s Day Holiday


Nov 15--19              Case Study 8, Chapter 8, Journal 7


Nov 22--24                Chapter 9, (Milestone 4, Nov 23, 24), Journal 8


Nov 29--Dec 3          Chapter 10, Journal 9, Special exercises


Dec 6--10Milestone 5


Dec 13Final Examination, 11:30 AM--1:20 PM (will be used for                                          Milestone 5 make-ups)