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 This information sheet has been greatly expanded from the initial summary sheet. As per your recommendations,  it is written with much more detail and specificity so that you can work on this project independently throughout the semester.  Think of it as an instruction manual.  Please read ALL of it carefully & email any additional questions you may have.


{{ a  semester  project }} 



P R O J E C T    R A T I O N A L E:

Think of this portfolio as your job application for the position of: CGC {"Chief Group Consultant"}.


The term, Portfolio, usually refers to a collection of work created by an individual in order to demonstrate his/her talent and accomplishments in a particular area. 


 Consequently, your "Observation Portfolio" submission will demonstrate your individual skill in observing, understanding, and analyzing various group-based interactions.  The quality of your skills in these three areas will determine the grade & whether or not you are "hired" as a  CGC  .





 DETAILS FOR THIS SEMESTER'S OBSERVATION PORTFOLIO Sect.AA [as revised from the initial  summary sheet]


<< Recommendations -  link to be updated Click here for a summary of the responses/changes based on the recommendations you submitted >>


-> In summary, what changes have been made to the original sheet ? the number of Part I entries has been reduced & minimum length has been shortened. As an option,  Part II  could be done as more comprehensive, group-authored paper. It is possible to use a video group as long as the footage is natural & not highly edited.  Part IV is now for extra credit only & the number of entries has been reduced. Overall, the goal is to streamline ( and shorten)  the project and aim for quality rather than quantity . In addition, now the student is taking more initiative in selecting the components( Parts) that will demonstrate his/her skills of OBSERVATION and ANALYSIS. Key changes =


-> What is my specific objective with this project? This project's goal is to help you develop a deeper understanding of group dynamics by repeatedly observing and analyzing [see ** in next FAQ below] the discussions/interactions of a variety of communication situations.


-> What kinds of "analysis" am I expected to write?  ** Analyzing = applying the concepts from the text/course notes in order to explain the observed actions of groups & effectively address possible implications.  In other words, analyzing requires you to go beyond merely describing  what went on.


-> Why is such a project required in addition to all my other work for this class?

For several reasons:  (1) This Portfolio REINFORCES the course content in a pragmatic way.  (2) It provides you with an opportunity to practice skills of observation which also are likely to be useful in your future life-- both personally and professionally. (3) The Portfolio can give you real-life insights beyond what you read in the text or get from participating in classroom projects.  (4) This Portfolio is an INDIVIDUAL assignment so it serves as  an opportunity  to  enhance your own  course grade in a way that is NOT dependent on the performance of your group. 


-> How many actual parts are there to the revised Portfolio? 

Each of the items included satisfied the educational goal and require roughly the same amount of writing.  The student is expected to select any 3 Parts for completion;   you may want to select  based on what you think you most need to learn or according to what contexts best match your needs in your personal and professional life. Under certain circumstances, extra items might be accepted for extra credit. If interested, discuss this option with your Professor.



-> How will the various components be graded? The Portfolio will be graded holistically [A,B,C,D, etc] but you can think of each required Part as being worth 33 points out of 100. 


-> When is this project due?   There is one recommended submission and one mandatory submissions. The middle-of-the-semester submission is now OPTIONAL. THe purpose of this midterm submission is still for you to receive homework credit (and feedback from the Professor), but it is now your option to bypass this submission. The submission at the end of the semester for the actual, final grading is mandatory and no late submissions will be accepted. See the end of this handout for additional details & submission dates section updated






Part I  ( Exec Memos/Postmortems )

Part II  ( Formal Analysis Paper )

Part III  ( Self Critique- including semester progress report )

Part IV  ( Insights-about-communication-diary )

Submission Dates

Submission Checklist

Compliance Factor in Action - ( summaries of your recommendations)


<< Section-by-Section Details


 Part I:  RE: OBSERVING YOUR In-class WORK GROUP [assess-your-success]


this section's contents = "Executive memos"/post-mortems- - - {typed}


 [submit a minimum of 2 /maximum of 3]     [length guideline = 2-3 paragraphs each / Double Spaced]  



this section's goals: to strengthen your "participant-observer" skills; to integrate text/course concepts; to develop the skill to assess the performance a group you are participating in. SEE ANNOTATION #1  BELOW


additional details:    These commentaries are based on your ongoing work group/team in this class.  Because  you will be working with these same people throughout the semester to complete several  assigned presentations, these groups will provide an up-close opportunity to observe while benefitting yourself.  These memos/post-mortems  should be phrased as concrete, follow-up commentaries such as those a CEO or division executive would write. You also  can think of these as comparable to "blog posts".  Each memo should focus on a particular session -- either a certain work session [i.e. a GMAP] or a certain class presentation.  Avoid generalized, superficial overviews. Each memo/post mortem needs to focus on performance during a specific group session [ see "helpful guidelines" below]. You also can consider things that occur virtually (email/text/chat, etc) leasing to the actual presentation/GMAP session being assessed in that E.M./P.M.


In general, I recommend that  groups members communicate openly & share their observations with their groupmates, but I will not do so.  Whatever you write to me is confidential.


* You should use basic memo format  {i.e. "TO:/FROM:/RE:"}.  Each memo should blend commentary on your group as-a-whole  with relevant mention of specific participants.


* The subject matter of these  memos/post-mortems  is an assessment of  your group's operational performance.  Areas of commentary can include: OVERALL EFFECTIVENESS  , TASK BEHAVIORS  &  EFFECTIVENESS  ,  MAINTENANCE BEHAVIORS & EFFECTIVENESS , and/or BEHAVIORAL and FUNCTIONAL ROLES.  It helps to approach  these memos as brief,  analytical critiques about your group's operation as a SYSTEM Be sure to incorporate relevant concepts from your text and/or notes.


* Spread out the memos so that at least one is done at or before  midterm time & one is done during the last month of the semester.


* Since memos can be based on either a GMAP session or on a presentation, it might be interesting to complete one of each.









           (select one in which you are NOT performing as an active member)


this section's contents = 1 formal Analysis Paper - - - {typed}


 [submit 1  [length guideline = approx 2-3 pp. / Double Spaced]



this section's goals:  tolearn to "see" various key concepts from the  course & your text; to apply your observational skills & insights to a wider context beyond the classroom.   It is easier to maintain the necessary analytical  objectivity if you are not a member of the group being observed; however, if you cannot accomplish this desired criterion,   discuss your situation with the Professor.  Annotation #2 below mentions several potential groups.  Also  it's better to select a group with a "real-world" purpose, rather than one that is going through a hypothetical exercise.    SEE ANNOTATION #2  BELOW


      For this Part of the Potfolio, you want to be an "outsider" - [i.e. outside the fishbowl]  elect a "real-world" group to study.  Preferably, choose an actual, non-classroom, on-going, operating group.  Observe the discussions and/or interactions of this outside-of-class group as many times as possible. This semester, it is possible to use a video grop BUT it should be natural footage & include the URL in your write-up.


additional details: 

    Recommended Procedure :

      - It is still recommended that you write down some descriptive and insightful notes for yourself each time you observe this outside-of-class group.  Avoid relying on memory or on general impressions since the paper that you are writing will need to be concrete &  specific.

      (a) Option #1:  

          <1> select 3-4 specific concepts from the course and/or text on which to focus;

               <2> observe the chosen group at least 2 times;

               <3> take notes on what you see; you do NOT have to submit your observational notes.

               <4> write an analysis paper applying your 3-4 specific concepts-of-focus. ( selected in step 1)

                <5> If  you opt to complete Part II as a group/small team & produce a collaboratively-authored paper , all

                     of these  procedural steps remain the same, but the resultant paper needs to be proportionately

                     longer & more comprehensive.


         (b) Option #2:   However, if you prefer rather than writing up several visit's worth of observational notes, you can submit 2-3 pages of insightful. observational notes rather than one single Analysis Paper.


* This "formal" Analysis Paper is similar to critical essays you probably have written for other courses in which you have applied [not merely described] specific course concepts/principles.  (e.g. Oral Comm, Mass Comm, Art of Western World, Journey of  Transformation)   


* Grading for Part II will be based on the quality of the  specificity, insightfulness, and analysis in your   descriptions  &  applications of the text's theories and principles  to the group dynamics that you are observing.


* Occasionally,  people consider substituting with  a TV/Film group or sports team for this analysis paper. However, be aware that such TV group-based  reality shows (Big Brother, Top Model, Survivor, Project Runway, Top Chef, The Apprentice, etc.) are highly edited and therefore,  generally are NOT suitable for the kind of below-the-surface analysis you need to do. Similarly unless you are traveling with a sports team, you do not have access to the necessary unedited view of the group-as-a-system.


Do NOT use a TV group for this part without first receiving explicit approval from your Professor. 








Part III:  RE: OBSERVING YOURSELF  [looking in the mirror]


this section's contents = a Self Critique +incl. progress report- - - -{typed}  

  [submit 1 ]     [length guideline = approx 1&1/2 - 2  pp. / Double Spaced]



this section's goals: to increase objective personal awareness; to see yourself through eyes of others; to develop the ability to conduct honest,  self assessment of the effects of your behaviors.  <SEE ANNOTATION #3 BELOW>


some possible approaches:  [all of these will help you objectively assess yourself--which is a skill that frequently is linked to professional and personal success. ]    

<ver1> Consider your performance as a group participant in & out of this class & write a basic self assessment essay [see "Self Critique" details below**]

<ver2> Devise a measurement scale in order to rank yourself on the "10 top areas of skill &  effectiveness for a group participant" -- as deduced from performance  guidelines in your textbook {note, you will also need to create & ANNOTATE that top 10 list}

<ver3> Select a member of your group to give you honest & objective feedback  focusing on the 5 self critique items listed below. Together, write the analysis paper.

<ver4> Use a journal format.  Keep a personal CGC journal in which you log a weekly entry on your specific personal progress over the course of the semester. (total of 10 entries)

<ver5>  Use a self-analysis checklist as you would find in any Oral Communication textbook. Add a paragraph to answer the 3 group-related factors flagged below:  <*>






















** "Self Critique" details:] If you opt to complete a basic Self Critique essay [ver1], your paper/essay should discuss, at the very least, these four factors -- 

    (1) evaluate your usual "roles" as performed in this class & in outside groups <*>

    (2) evaluate your personal communication skills & effectiveness this semester in this class and elsewhere

    (3) evaluate your overall strengths as a group participant & possible areas for improvement <*>

    (4) cite one specific "group" that you expect to be part of in the near future & speculate about (using logical reasoning)  how you are likely to function within it. If you have no idea about your short term future, instead you should discuss what type of group role you would LIKE to do more often . <*>


* Although a self critique cannot be finalized until the end of the semester, if you wish, you may submit a preliminary version along with your midterm materials.




  HELPFUL GUIDELINES: If you're unfamiliar with the technique of writing a self critique, try thinking in terms of: <Who am I? / What am I? / How am I? / What do I need to be?> 

Part IV: RE: OBSERVING THE COMMUNICATION AROUND YOU [you can't not communicate!]




this section's contents  = 'Insights-about-Communication" Diary in journal/log form  -- {typed}


 [submit a minimum of 5 /maximum ofentries]   [length guideline @ =  1-2 "comprehensive" paragraphs / Double Spaced]



this section's goals: To draw a connection between the lessons you are learning about group communication/dynamics and the communication behaviors  observed in the everyday world.  SEE ANNOTATION #4 BELOW


Option #1:  

   Recommended Procedure :

        <1> As you go through your daily life, start paying closer attention to how  people

                   interact/communicate in formal [i.e. groups & teams] and informal groupings [i.e. collections of people].

                    Note "how" they do it, not "what" they are doing. Possible contexts include your workplace, your

                    family, encounters with friends, interactions with your groups-in-your-life, etc.

        <2> Take notes (written or mental) on what you think is interesting in these human encounters &

                     interactions around you.

        <3>  Review specific course &/or text concepts  which correspond to what you've noticed.

        <4>  Write the entries.  Each entry must explicitly address at least one specific group concept/

                      dynamic mentioned in the course and/or text. [see additional suggestions below in Guidelines section]

           <5>  Each entry must pertain to a defined communication encounter  e.g. Interpersonal,

                  Public, Nonverbal,  Groups-in-general,  etc.  Just as you might  do in a journal or a "blog"

                  you are being asked to write down your Feelings/Reactions/Thoughts/Insights in an free-      

                     flowing way.


Remember, each entry needs to include reference to a specific concept from your notes and/or text.




      HELPFUL GUIDELINES Many people already have experience in writing introspective journals/diaries. You may want to keep a weekly/running record of your Communication-based  thoughts & observations throughout the semester and then select the "best" ones for inclusion in your final Portfolio. Be sure to ask your Professor if you need further clarification.   Grading for this section will consider the quality of the perceptions and how clearly the insights are expressed.

           > Examples of possible Communication Dynamics occurring all around you include:

- How people behave while waiting in Lines  / The many ways that we communicate without words /  Cultural Norms / Self Disclosure as a tool of  Interpersonal negotiation /  Cross cultural Communication isn't just across "cultures" / Variations in Perception / The many uses of Eye Contact / The Power of the Norm in Group operations / How some speakers are excellent & others are only very good; what's the secret? / How are some people take and maintain the floor in group discussions and others can't get in a word, etc.etc






Both the midterm version & the final version of your Observation Portfolio should include an accurate TABLE-OF-CONTENTS-- indicating page numbers.








Checklist-- Am I ready to submit my final  Portfolio???  (S15AA)


    √     Item / Part   how many required?  
Am I aware of the submission dates for both the Midterm version & the Final version? Midterm = OPTIONAL: submit anything you've completed so far {for homework credit & to receive  feedback on the quality so far} {By now, you should have drafts of at least 2 items}
{  Midterm  Submission  Window = 13/2 - 3/18 *}

Final = MANDATORY: submit the entire project = ANY 3 parts  { being submitted for grading}
{due on 5/4/15}

*NB: portfolios submitted very close to the midterm deadline date might  not be returned for 1-2 weeks
Have I  read the 5 annotations in the
Compliance Factor in Action section?
.OPTIONAL: but these provide additional rationale & tips on what is expected

Table of Contents [including page numbers]    1

Part I  [ i.e. Executive Memos/ Postmortems]    2 (3 maximum) { at least 1 based on a pre-midterm GMAP or presentation/at least 1 based on a post midterm GMAP or presentation}

Part II  [i.e. Analysis Paper]    1

Part III [i.e. Self Critique]    1 

Part IV[i.e. Communication Insight  Diary]   5 entries (6 maximum) { at least 1 paragraph each }

[if applicable] midterm feedback sheet    1 {checklist received from Professor}




about your recommendations......


ANNOTATION #1 S15-- about Part I [Executive memos/Postmortems]: Based on the recommendations & consideration of other factors,  the following changes have been made:

 > Reduction in number of required memos/postmortems: Now = minimum of 2 / maximum of 3  |  At least one memo to   be completed  pre-midterm & at least one from  post-midterm.


 > Reduction in length of memos/post mortems: Now = 2-3  well organized paragraphs  




 > Greater sharing of personal insights: Feel free to share your written Part I observations with your group members as you conduct your own, face-to-case postmortems. However, the primary purpose of Part I remains as an opportunity to use these E.M./P.M.'s  to demonstrate YOUR observational qualifications to your Professor.



FYI:  Generally, groups benefit from conducting their own regular, internal "Post Mortem/Debrief" sessions among the members so that the group as-a-whole can benefit from internal feedback and observations.





back to Part I



ANNOTATION #2 S15 -- about Part II [Formal Analysis Paper]: Based on the recommendations  &  consideration of other factors, the following changes have been made:

  > More options for observing & writing. Now, you can opt to complete this item as a group rather than as an

  individual. However, please realize that this also means that a group-authored paper should be longer & more

  comprehensive .


 > More specific choices for group-to-be-observed/analyzed. For your outside-of-class group, you can now use a videorecorded  group but please be aware you should use a "natural" group, not something from a movie or TV show-- both of which are too subjectively edited.  Also, include the URL of the videofootage.


        However, since a live group is the preferred option, it's still recommended that you seek out one of the many  real life/ outside-of-this- class groups that you can observe via a "fishbowl"-type method. [e.g Fraternity Council , club meetings, public town hearings, committee meetings, staff/co-worker meetings, school/intramural sports team meetings,study groups, etc.]

         It is still HIGHLY recommended that you select a group where you are not an active participant. It is VERY difficult to accomplish  analytical objectivity when  you are "inside" a group. If you have trouble finding  a group to observe, speak to your Professor about any alternatives you have in mind.


> Reduction in formal notetaking:  Now = you do not need to submit any of your observational notes; however,

   you should take notes & it was recommended that you observe the group several times . 


> Avoid duplication with Part IV:  Parts II & III overlap in a few ways which is one reason why the specifications of whoch Parts to complete has been made more flexible.





back to Part II



ANNOTATION #3 S15-- about Part III [Self Critique]:  Based on past recommendations received & in consideration of other factors, the following changes have been made:

  >More specificity yet more flexibility in S.C. approaches: Various approaches & guidelines for completing Part III   are provided (above) in the online document.


 > Increased self analysis:  Be sure to include reference to a group that you will be part of in the near future so that you can consider how your current strengths & areas-for-improvement  might affect  your performance in your future, real-world groups (e.g. include discussion of what you've learned this semester that will be helpful to you in that future group).  


Most of you already have life plans & goals, so use  that to speculate on the imminent groups in your life.  If you truly have  no idea about groups in your future, be  sure to explain why you are leaving that item out (or--- you can start thinking about it).

FYI: Writing a self critique can be a challenge. It's hard to get the right balance of honesty about your strengths AND your areas needing improvement. However, self-review and self awareness is useful for life, not just this course.  Part III will provide a helpful opportunity to: STOP, LOOK, and ASSESS .



back to Part III



ANNOTATION #4-S15- about Part IV [Communication Insights Journal]:  Based on  recommendations & consideration of other factors, the following changes have been made:

 > Conversion to one of your 3 options:  This section is still one of your options but be aware that parts of it might duplicate  the skills you are already demonstrating in parts I, II, & III.


 > Reduction in number Now = minimum of 5 / maximum of 6  [but remember to aim for "quality, not quantity"]


 > Elimination of handwriting.  Entries should  be typed/ word-processed just  like the rest of the Portfolio, but should reflect thoughtful reflection.


 > More specific examples.  See the Part IV instructions above  for a  list of commonly-observed, "everyday", Communication Dynamics.  Maybe this list will give you some ideas about noticing what classic communication principles are going on around you all of the time.



FYI: While taking a course like this, people often start noticing communication/interaction dynamics occurring in everyday life that were always there but they never noticed or they didn't realize that thetr was a name for it. In other words, there's now a greater awareness, understanding & vocabulary to use.  This is exactly the kind of sensitivity a CGC needs to have.


 back to Part IV



Some misc notes about completing/submitting your Observation Portfolio

♦ ♦ All specifications for this semester's Observation Portfolio assignment are located within this online document. There is no hardcopy version of this document  available. However,  samples of  Memos/Post Mortems  & sample Analysis Papers will be distributed, along with midterm feedback sheets. 

This Observation Portfolio is something you are working on over the course of the semester-- in your own way.  It is recommended that you create a long term work schedule for yourself.


NB: "A" -quality work in this course consists of a strong ability to apply the course's/text's concepts  to explain and accurately analyze group interactions.The Portfolio will actually be graded holistically [A,B,C,D, etc] but you can think of each Part as being worth 33 points. 


an extra NOTE about W.I.G.  this semester's  in-class groups are at-or-near  "optimum"  size, so individual workloads still should be manageable. Remember, the goal of the course is to learn how to accomplish the maintenance skills necessary to "work well with others" -- whatever the size of the group.






page updated &  revised 1/30/15  







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XThere is a mid-semester submission requirement--to hand in whatever you have done thusfar for review-&-feedback.  [see the checklist above for dates] The completed portfolio (including the Professor's midterm feedback sheet)  is due for final submission for grading by _________.

X (b) Part II / Option #2: TO BE USED ONLY AS A LAST RESORT!   Follow the same procedure, but you make your observation & analysis on one of the OTHER groups in this class. This means you will need to attend at least one of their out-of-class GMAP sessions in addition to sitting in on a few of their in-class GMAPs. Also be sure to read Annotation #2 below.


X <<ver6> :>>>Beef up each of the part I submissions (the 2-3 Executive Memos). This means that each  Postmortem/Memo must include 1-2 additional paragraphs in which you assess your behaviors, contributions, and effectiveness in your group's overall  operations as well as in the actual group session you are writing about in that PM/EM. <v.6:NOT APPLICABLE FOR THIS SEMESTER

XXPart IV-Option #2:  if using this as an alternate to part II:   you should  use the procedural directions for option 2 below. Then follow this procedure:

 * The majority of your entries should pertain to some sort of specific  group communication context. (of any size)

 * Select 3-4 specific  group concepts from the course and/or text  on which to focus,

 * Make note of any changes in observed grouping  productivity, strengths & weaknesses in relation to those chosen concepts.

 * write the entries.  Each entry must address at least one specific group concept mentioned in the course and/or text. Entry length should be about 3/4 - 1 page each.