Question: What roles do people play when participating in small-group work?
Answer/Quote: David M. Litsey suggests 18 roles that people can play in a group enterprise. He divides these roles into three categories: ‘Maintenance,’ ‘Task Roles,’ and ‘Self-Serving Roles.’
Self-Serving Roles1. Dominator: Interrupts, embarks on long monologues, is overpositive, tries to lead group, asserts authority, is autocratic, monopolizes.
2. Blocker: Interferes with the progress of the group by rejecting ideas; takes negative attitude on all suggestions; argues unduly; is pessimistic; refuses to cooperate.
3. Deserter: Withdraws in some way; is indifferent, aloof, excessively formal; daydreams, doodles, whispers to others, wanders from subject.
4. Aggressor: Struggles for status, boasts, criticizes; deflates ego or status of others, ‘
5. Recognition-seeker: exaggerated attempt to get attention by boasting or claiming experience or great accomplishments.
6. Playboy type: displays a lack of involvement in the group process by horseplay, inappropriate humor or cynicism.
Comment: All of these roles will be fun to discuss, especially the latter self-serving roles. We’ve all experienced those roles and maybe even played them. RayS.
To familiarize students with these roles, Litsey suggests having students view a video tape of a group discussion. Each student in the class is assigned to observe one of the members of the group.
Another way in which to familiarize students with these roles would be to stage a small group discussion in which each student in the group plays one of the roles.
Source: Litsey, David M. “Small Group Training and the English Classroom.” English Journal (September 1969), 920-927.