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This workshop was run by Artûras and Dirk.  Based on the wishes of the participants, they guided us through the basics of group dynamics and suggested a model for building up an experiential learning process.  This is a brief summary of the topics discussed.


You can look at a "group" as a thing where people meet and interaction takes place. The quality of the interaction will be different in every case.

Based on the work of Kurt Lewin, Carl Rodgers and Alvin Zander (amongst others), it is clear that each group goes through a process of change - this change happens very much "under the water" and - to help us work better with groups - we need to try and see it  This is where the study of group dynamics comes in.

There are five basic phases in the life of groups. These phases can also be seen as a metaphor for life:

This is something we will return to below, but it is worth re-emphasising that "models are models", they are not the whole truth.  They may help us to understand some aspects more clearly, but they will never give us the whole complex picture.  For instance, Carl Rodgers has identified 18(!) phases in a group's life, but who is to say that his model will apply to a particular group at a particular time...?

In order to be able really to perform, a group needs a mixture of anxiety and safety, otherwise it may stick in the "norming" phase.


Whoever is responsible for facilitating an experiential learning process has to be aware of an enormous amount of elements in the life of a group.  Participants in Bebrusai asked for a scheme to help them recognise some of these elements and give some answers to questions such as:

Trainers need to use the "tools" they have in working with a group.  Think about putting some of these things into action:


Obviously, no model or scheme can provide concrete answers for particular situations, but Dirk (checked with Bart T) tried to provide "a scheme - it's not the scheme".

Click on this little picture to see the scheme (it is quite a big file - 94K - so it may take some time to download!

Some remarks on this scheme

1 An experiential learning process depends on:
- objectives
- needs of participants
- whether the group is a new one or an existing one
- environment
- cultural differences
- request from the client
- style of the trainer
- etc etc [add your own elements here!]

2 The task of the trainer:
to observe, see, feel what is living in the group and to offer activities which give individuals the chance to learn and which help the group to grow.  Some trainers speak of "creating breakthrough". Others refer to the trainer offering a framework for learning.

3 Dynamic model
* The process will not go always in a straight line.  It is quite possible that it will go from 1-2-3-2-4-3----
* Not all participants will be all together on the same level.

4 It's only a scheme - it's not the scheme!

There is an ever-increasing body of literature about experiential learning and much controversy about some of the methods and approaches employed.  We can only suggest: read, try things out, check back.

Good luck!


Group dynamics:

"Practical guide for youth leaders" written by: Andrea Mewaldt and Þilvinas Gailius (you should know him), published in Vilnius "Vyja", in 1997.

"Group dynamic research and theory". Alvin Zander, Dorwin Cartwright. London, Tavistock. 1968.

Alvin Zander:  Making groups effective, San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, 1982.

Experiential learning:

"Processing the experience , strategies to enhance and generalize
second edition
John L. Luckner and Keldar S.Nadler
True North Leadership,Inc. 1235 Coast Killage Road,Suite F,
Montecito,CA 93108
805-565-9997   Fax 805-565-0043
Edited by Kendal/Hunt Books
customer service at 800-228-0810
fax 800-772-9165

Hope I did justice to your workshop Artûras and Dirk!

Keep the Roof on fire!