Playlist teacher guide - Group dynamics

Playlist information

Playlist summary

This playlist provides content to explore the way groups work and how members can play a role in ensuring groups are respectful of all.

Playlist purpose

As a result of engaging with the media items in this playlist students will:

  • Understand the nature of group dynamics and how it plays out in various situations.
  • Explore how they can counter pressure to conform with group members if it doesn’t match their values and beliefs.
  • Unpack ways that groups can ensure that they behave respectfully to group members and others beyond the group.

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Learning objectives

  • Understand the nature of social power and the dynamics of peer influence on decisions, behaviours and actions within groups.
  • Understand how to behave respectfully and ethically as a member of a peer group.

Key messages

  • Peer influence can have a strong impact on attitudes, decisions and behaviours during early adolescence.
  • Bullying occurs within a complex environment of social power, privilege and peer influences.

Year level(s) appropriate for

Year 7, Year 8, Year 9

Australian curriculum links

Practice and apply strategies to seek help for themselves and others.

Investigate the benefits of relationships and examine their impact on their own and others’ health and wellbeing.

Evaluate strategies to manage personal, physical and social changes that occur as they grow older.

Evaluate factors that shape identities and critically analyse how individuals impact the identities of others.

Examine the impact of changes and transitions on relationships.

Propose, practise and evaluate responses in situations where external influences may impact on their ability to make healthy and safe choices.

Media items

Group dynamics introduction

Type: Slides.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: These slides introduce the Group dynamics playlist.

Teacher notes:

Slide 1: Group power dynamics 

Group dynamics refers to how group members interact with each other. Groups empower us through shared beliefs. When we come together as a unified group, we can be much more powerful and influential than just a single individual. 

Our connections and shared power is key to the function of groups. Our combined power within a group can be used for good very effectively – but there are times when a group’s power can be used to the detriment of others in their community. 

As a class, discuss a range of different groups who use their power in a positive way which benefits others in their community.  

Ask students to suggest groups who may use their power disrespectfully or in a way which is detrimental to others. 

Slide 2: The dynamics of groups 

It’s common to be drawn to people who appear to have similar interests, likes, dislikes and hobbies to us. These groups tend to form due to a social element where group members will share time together doing things they enjoy such as watching sport, playing video games, participating in an activity or hobby. 

A group may also form from a number of individuals who admire a particular person or groups of people and aspire to be like them.  

You may have a group of students who are all AFL fans and aspire to be the next Dustin Martin, Jack Riewoldt, Erin Phillips or Taylah Harris. Or another group who love playing Fortnite and all follow the same players on Twitch.  

Teacher note: Replace above examples with different examples if they are more relevant for your students. 

If the group holds power within the social network of the school, then group members will also gain social power from being associated with that group.  

And sometimes we just join a group to avoid being left out or feeling lonely. 

Slide 3: Groups and conformity 

Groupthink is the narrowing of thought in a group so that members come to believe there is only one correct answer or way of thinking about an issue. 

Ask students to suggest the types of issues where groupthink may play a role in how members think about and respond as a group. For example, it could be in relation to how they dress, brands of clothes or shoes that are considered the “coolest”, which team or player is the best in the league or, as we get older, which political party to vote for or what sort of car to drive. 

Explain that groups that you base your beliefs, values and behaviours on are known as reference groups. They are the groups we use to base the standards we judge ourselves against. Our social norms are often what we consider to be "normal" and are often determined by our reference groups or role models. 

Slide 4: Anonymity 

When you are part of a large group, whether that be online or in a crowd at a concert, sporting match or on public transport, it can be very easy to get lost in a crowd. You can believe that you are anonymous – that people don’t know who you are and therefore don’t care what you say or how you act. It can also make it easier to not think about how your individual actions might impact on an individual because you see your actions as being online a small part of the crowds action – and therefore insignificant. We are going to explore just how hurtful harassment can be, even if it is coming from an anonymous crowd and how we can work within our groups to create a more respectful culture and challenge disrespect and harassment when we witness it. 

Group power dynamics

Type: Page.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Group dynamics is all about how group members interact with each other, both within and between groups. Groups enable us to coordinate and unify our actions and beliefs as a collective.

Suggested activities:

Ask students to draw a Venn diagram in order to identify and categorise the similarities and differences between a range of groups they belong to.

These similarities and differences could be amongst the members of the groups, the groups values and beliefs, or the activities that group members like to participate in.

 

Additional activities:

Ask students to develop a set of rules to ensure groups are respectful to members and others outside of their group.

Discuss how these rules could be negotiated with group members. What strategies would be needed in order to make sure that group members adhered to the rules? How would groups decide what the consequences would be for members who didn’t stick to the rules?

Frenemies

Type: Web.

Duration: 2 minutes.

Source: PROJECT ROCKIT. ()

Summary: A frenemy is both a friend and an enemy, or a rival. Conflict between close friends can be common, particular when we are younger and still working through our identity and place in the world.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Have you ever experienced having a frenemy? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    Discussion points:

    The world of friendship and social status can be a challenging one for teenagers. The behaviours of frenemies tend to fall into the area of relational aggression - where friendship and social status are used to manipulate a person.

    Some of the common behaviours that frenemies use include: excluding someone from parties and play dates; mocking, teasing, or saying something mean but following it with "just joking"; starting rumours and gossip in person, online; and threatening to take away friendship if someone doesn't toe the line.

    By teaching students these behaviours are disrespectful and unacceptable, peers can make a conscious choice to move away from friends who use these behaviours.

    Use a venn diagram as part of a discussion on what characteristics are exhibited by friends and what characteristics might be exhibited by frenemies. This will help students to understand what differences and similarities are present when trying to understand how to be a true friend and how to spot a potential frenemy.

Groups and conformity

Type: Page.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: The desire to be accepted and be part of a group is natural and human. Conforming to a group is not always a negative—if positive behaviour is a group norm then aligning with the group can be beneficial, for yourself and others.

Suggested activities:

Ask students to provide examples of each of the three types of conformity (Compliance, Internalisation and Identification) they have seen in TV shows or movies.

Discuss whether each of the examples involved inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour towards others.

Discuss as a class whether it is possible to conform to group norms and behaviours without losing your own self-identity.

Being anonymous

Type: Page.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Online, it’s relatively easy to say what you like with little repercussion. No-one has to know your real name or anything about you. Screen names or handles don’t have to link with real world identities. But being able to hide your identity does not lessen the impact of online harassment.

Teacher notes:

The eSafety Commissioner website (esafety.gov.au) has a range of resources to explore online behaviours with young people.

  • The YeS Project is a resource for Year 9 and 10 students that explores how young people can be empowered to make their online spaces more respectful.
  • The Lost Summer is a role-playing video game, designed to be a highly engaging experience for Years 7 and 8 students that helps them build digital intelligence skills and promotes online safety.

Resilience

Type: Web.

Duration: 2 minutes.

Source: Office of the eSafety Commissioner. ()

Summary: Heads up: This resource discusses online harassment and bullying which may be distressing for some people. Stacey becomes increasingly distressed by the persistent online harassment she’s receiving from a group of girls determined to make her life miserable.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Would you have the resilience to be able to stand up to bullies like this? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    To explore resilience and being able to take control of a cyberbullying situation check out the resources available on the eSafety Commissioners website.

Group dynamics conclusion

Type: Slides.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: These slides conclude the Group dynamics playlist.

Teacher notes:

To conclude this playlist, ask students to undertake a reflection activity about what they learnt about groups. To provide structure to their reflection work through the following slides:  

Slide 1:  

Ask students to write down three things they learnt about group dynamics. 

Slide 2:  

Ask students to imagine they are the editor of the local newspaper. If they had to write a headline for this playlist that captured the most important aspect that should be remembered, what would that headline be? 

Slide 3: 

Ask students how their headline differs from what they would have written as a headline one month ago. Discuss what has caused these changes. 

Slide 4:  

Ask students to identify if there is more information they would like to find out about any of the issues raised in the playlist. Discuss where they could go to find out this information. 

Activities and extras

The learning generated through engaging with this playlist could require follow up activities focused on dealing with bullying.

  • To provide students with information about what to do if they are experiencing bullying go to this ReachOut page, which includes videos and information that break down the steps to talking to someone about bullying.

To look further into the concept of conformity and groupthink, show this video to students and complete the following activity:

Why do we conform? - by Freedom in Thought.

  • Ask students to brainstorm a list of reasons why someone may conform to the beliefs, values and behaviours of a group.
  • Get students to categorise each of these reasons under headings of Personal (benefit the individual conforming), Social (maintain or enhance their social status) or Cultural (maintain standing within family or cultural group).
  • Ask students to individually prioritise each of the reasons in order of which is the most important reason for conforming to which is of least importance to them.