Code of behavior (Group contract): Establish a code of behavior,
such as the “Full Value Contract”, the Outward Bound motto, the
organization’s code, or a code developed by the group early in the
supportive behavior: Students will follow your behavior, so make
sure your instructional team is seen by students as sharing a high level
of social support.
supportive physical contact: “Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands.”
(written on a National Forest Service comment card). Silly as this
suggestion may sound, it is a reminder to look for opportunities to
encourage genuine supportive physical contact between group members.
Trust activities can be very
discuss group issues in group discussions: In an early debrief,
explain that it is only appropriate to talk about group issues, not about
problems with individuals in the group setting. If there are any problems
between individuals then these should be sorted out before or after group
discussions, on their own or with the instructors. In other words, group
discussions are for talking about the group. Positive comments about
individuals are of course very acceptable!
intervention: When a pattern of negative social behavior starts to
develop, act to change that pattern earlier rather than later.
comments: When instructing or facilitating discussions, complement
individual participants on their contribution. Try to use their name each
time, e.g., “That’s a really well thought through idea, John, well
done….”. Encourage others to provide positive feedback where
appropriate. This may seem corny and fake, but if it is consciously
used when there is real justification for compliment, particularly with
low self-esteem groups, then it can help to raise the general level of
self and other respect.
positive feedback: Have everyone stick a blank sheet of paper on their
back. Students are then asked to then mill around and write honest,
positive feedback on people’s backs. Student can then read and discuss
the feedback they received.
Ask the students to line themselves up in order from the student who is
contributing the most to the group through to the person who is
contributing least to the group. This can be a controversial and socially
challenging task! Once the students agree on the lineup, then say that
each student will get a chance to choose one another student who they
believe should move further up towards the student who contributed most.
Individual counseling: Take someone who is not socially supporting the
group aside and chat with them about ways in which they can be more
positively involved through the program.
of participant: If a participants’ behavior continues to significantly
disrupt the development of the group and other individuals, then remove
the student from normal group activities (e.g. ask them to sit out of an
activity, through to removal for rest of the program).