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  • 1. INTRODUCTION Do you know the types of group that you join? Are they primary or secondary groups? As a guide, a primary group is where the relationships within the group are intimate, personal, and heart-felt. On the other hand, a secondary group entails relationships that are not intimate or impersonal. There are actually many ways in which you can classify groups but in this topic, we will be studying the types of small group communication according to Cragan and Wright (1999).
  • 2. ~Descriptive groups are formed on the basis of work that can be done individually and by groups. ~ Prescriptive groups are classified according to the procedures that should be followed in achieving objectives.
  • 4. Decision-Making Groups Decision-making groups are groups that are specifically formed for the purpose of making decisions that would steer them toward their goals. In decision-making groups, the best resolutions are chosen from a range of alternatives gathered through procedural group discussions. An example of such a group is a policy-making group that discusses ways of implementing policies. A policy-making group is important because it determines the direction of an organization or agency.
  • 5. Social Groups Social groups are usually involved in activities related to the development and welfare of a society. This means that they include groups that uphold basic human rights and protect the interests of the people. Examples are Village Development Committees, which are meant to increase the quality of life of the people. Another example of social groups is the National Cancer Council, which is aimed at helping cancer patients undergo treatment and also for the development of cancer treatment facilities.
  • 6. Study Groups Study groups, on the other hand, are focused on achieving excellence in education. Differently stated, this type of group is closely associated with high educational performance. This is a result of in-group discussions that help boost students' memory, communication skills, and maturity. The practice of having study groups normally starts in secondary schools but study groups are usually more directed and effective in higher learning institutions, where group members have a broader knowledge base, are more matured, and have better communication skills.
  • 7. Work Groups Improving the quality and productivity of products and services would be one of the objectives of an organization. Teamwork is one of the commonly used strategies in achieving that objective. We refer to such teams as work groups. Work groups such as Quality Control Groups (QCGs) are one example of groups that can realize an organization's mission. Therefore, we can say that work groups are groups that are established for the purpose of achieving specific targets, objectives, or mission Having looked at the types of descriptive groups, let us now turn to prescriptive groups.
  • 8.  Colloquy  Forum  Symposium  Panel Discussion
  • 9. Colloquiums are usually aimed at solving specific problems and they involve specific audiences as well. For instance, a colloquium on youth problems will include youth experts and the youths as the audience. In a session, there will be about three to six experts and a chairperson conducts the discussion. Discussions in colloquiums are informal because the audiences are given a chance to directly interact with the experts. So, both parties are actively involved in the discussions without any limitation.
  • 10. The main reason for conducting forums is to get opinions from both experts and audiences. In this sense, forums are characterized as more open because those in the audience are given the chance to give their comments and opinions and also ask questions. An example of a forum is the Forum Perdana Hal Ehwal Islam, which is aired on TV1 every Thursday night. Similar to panels, forums also have specific procedures monitored by a chairperson and a session usually lasts for about one to one and a half-hour.
  • 11.  This group format involves large audiences. The purpose of this format is to provide information on certain topics. Those involved in this group format include presenters of working papers, debaters, chairpersons, session writer (similar to minute taker), and the audiences.  Unlike the other prescriptive groups mentioned earlier, there is no specific time frame for this type of groups. The length of a session depends on the time taken to present all of the papers.  Working papers are presented in a formal manner and it is conducted by a chairperson.  Usually, presentations of working papers will lead to some resolutions. The publishing of proceedings is also a result of symposiums and conferences.
  • 12. Panels are small groups that discuss current issues with the intention of instilling awareness among the audiences about the existence and implications of those issues. A panel session would consist of about four to eight main speakers, a chairman, and an audience. Usually, panel members, who are the main speakers, are given approximately one to one and a half-hour to comment on the issues.  In panel discussions, there are specific procedures to be followed, which are controlled by the chairman.
  • 13. In this world, we live in a community, where every one of us is interdependent. To achieve personal or group objectives or goals, we need to associate ourselves with others. That means we need to be in a group or groups. Subsequently, we must know the types of groups that we are in. This means that we should know the different types of group communication. This knowledge will influence our communication in the different groups because every type of group has a different approach to communication. The bottom line is we should be in those groups that will help us get to our objectives.
  • 14.  In this network, the leader sits in the middle of the group with the group members surrounding him or her. The leader normally makes decisions single- handedly, and then, informs others. So, the interaction is formal. The information is transferred in the shortest time and with high accuracy since it comes straight from the source without any intermediary.  However, group members may feel dissatisfied with this kind of communication because it is a one- person decision-making process thus the decision may not necessarily be the best.  This network is effective in simple situations, where there need not be a collaboration of ideas for a decision to be made.  An example is the communication between an executive manager in a head office and the heads of the company's state branches.
  • 15. In the circle network, group members interact with about four other people in the group, two on the left and two on the right of them. So, members have equal opportunities to communicate and there is no specific leader in charge. Therefore, this kind of communication pattern usually exists in a group, where the opinions of every member are taken into account and are equally important. In such a situation, we can see that the relationships among members are informal with such high team spirit and satisfaction. However, because information can go many ways, its flow or transfer may be slow and it may not be accurate.
  • 16. The linear communication network does not normally involve all group members. Members usually only interact with those sitting next to them. So, a person may only communicate with just another person. Therefore, there is usually none or very weak leadership in this situation. Apart from that, information flow is quick with moderate accuracy. However, the quality of communication is low and there may be dissatisfaction among members because they seldom meet with other members and they only interact with just one or two other members. This pattern of communication most probably exists in conservative organization.
  • 17. In the star network, all members are actively interacting with each other. The platform of communication is open to all. The leader usually communicates with each member to arrive at decisions or solutions. The amount of information gathered is tremendous. Although group members may be happy that their opinions are taken into account in the decision-making process, it is a slow process and the information shared will most probably be of medium accuracy. Therefore, this network is most effective in complex situations.
  • 18. Therefore we see that there are various communication patterns that can be used in small groups. To communicate effectively, therefore, we need to identify the network pattern that suits our situation the most. However, studies have shown that the most common communication patterns used in small groups are the wheel and star networks. This is because group involvement and contribution in these two networks is optimal.