Tuckman´s Four Stages based on Group Work

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In a previous class, we learned about a theory on group dynamics called the Tuckman stages. This theory states that in order for a team to effectively produce at its highest potential, there are four phases that are indispensable and unavoidable. Without giving attention to these phases, Tuckman believed that most teams would concentrate almost solely on content and virtually ignore the process, explaining why outwardly strong teams produce underwhelming results. Summarizing these four phases, Tuckman named them forming, storming, norming and performing. While reflecting on the dynamic for my most recent group collaboration project for this class, it is helpful to consider the Tuckman phrases and whether or not they were effectively implemented in this process.

The groups in our cohort were assigned to select one aspect of computer mediated communication (CMC) to research and then write a paper together, communicating only via computer mediated technology to do so. The “forming” stage of our group occurred when the professor assigned each student into a group of 3-4 others. I was assigned to the orange group with Maria and Julie. Almost immediately, Julie sent out an email to talk over the project’s objectives, in particular, which topic in CMC would be best to research and write about. She suggested a few topics as well as some possible modes for communication. Frequently, the forming stage is associated with feelings of uncertainty and anxiety, as was the case when our group began. Right out of the gate, we experienced communication difficulties. Emails were sent and a discussion forum was created on Moodle. Although Julie and I were both actively communicating about the project, we were not receivi...

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...p really could have benefitted from setting up and taking time to work together. We could have taken advantage of additional forms of CMC, perhaps via chat room to communicate in real time, rather than via email. This may have allowed the group to move more cohesively into the norming stage. We should have been sharing our individual work with one another for feedback, allowing the knowledge of the others to improve our work.

As stated earlier, Tuckman believed that most teams concentrate almost exclusively on content and virtually ignore the process. Communication is of the upmost importance and we have innumerable options at our disposal to do. We can’t just focus on the product, like our group did. There has to be thought and effort put into how the team will accomplish the task. Without a process to guide us, both our team and our product suffered.

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