Group Dynamics

This week, we have not only talked about group dynamics – the processes involved when people in a group interact – but also experienced: with and through a “Tower Building Exercise”.


And this is what one of the participating students/mentors wrote:

This weeks session focused on group dynamics. When I walked into the classroom, the lecturer told us to push all the tables back as we would be involved in a group activity. She split the class evenly into two groups; group 1 and 2 (and I was in group 2). The task she assigned us was to work as a team to build a high tower out of paper in 20 minutes. She supplied both groups with a large stack of paper, tape and a stapler which we had to share.

This task had been familiar to some of us before as we had done it previously at different levels of our education, so my team and I began discussing different techniques that we should use to make our tower stand high (which we learnt from previous experience) and then assigned a role to each member. For example 6 people making paper roles, 1 person cutting tape and 2 people holding the tower together and putting it in shape.

Once we had our tactics in shape, we began to build the tower as we had discussed. Our initial plan was to make an Eiffel Tower and have a large base to support each level of the poles. However, as the minutes kept ticking, both teams become very competitive and aggressive and before we knew it, it was over.

In comparison, it is very clear which team had built the better tower. While my team worked very hard and made a good enough tower that was very high, the other team had clearly won as their tower not only looks better but also has the HEIGHT which was what our lecturer Sandra was looking for; not LENGTH like my teams.

I really enjoyed this task, not only because it was fun and practical but it really helped  me to revisit my understanding of Group Dynamics and the stages of team development; a theory bought to light by Bruce Tuckman.

We had gone through each stage of the model, fully understanding the different things each team must go through to progress to the next stage. I really like this theory and agree with it a lot because in basic terms it explains that we form a team and everyone is happy. We then get used to each other and that some conflict may arise. We resolve those conflicts and make a mutual plan to get to the goal. We perform as we planned and are motivated till the very end and then we depart which for some may be hard to let go of, but for others a relief.

The lecture also covered inter – & intra – group conflict. We understood that conflict may arise between us as a mentor group and our mentee group and that these conflicts can be extremely challenging and not always successfully resolved. However, as long as we listen to our mentees and they listen to us and no one stereotypes, then we can have a positive relationship, although sometimes conflict can help to make the team(s) perform better when issues are addressed and are done something about.

Find the original blog post here!

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