Teaching‎ > ‎

3. Group Processes (Soc 4190 / 5190)

This instance of this course is over.  I anticipate teaching a revised version of this course again in 2016/17.

This course was previously organized on a blog called Group Processes in Social Change.  This course will highlight a survey of contemporary micro level theories related to group processes and social psychology. We will pay special attention to theories and research related to social norms and mechanisms in society that lead to change in social norms with application to the role of social media in contemporary society.   

This is a senior level / MA student level course.   

Students are encouraged to look at an earlier version of the course to get a sense of the overall organization of the course.  This instance will reflect a shift in readings to include the books pictured above as well as a range of very recent publications that extend and develop the themes introduced in the earlier version.   


Meeting space: We will meet at 10:30 Tue/Thur in two locations: (1) our assigned class room Bentley 110, alt Bentley Annex 007; (2) a computer lab in 012 Bentley. This course makes use of collaborative writing and creation tools. It will often be helpful to bring a laptop to class.  

Survey for intro to the course.

Course Schedule

  1. Introduction to Soc 4190/5190   (lecture 1)
  2. Digital skills   (Homework #1)
  3. Writing skills  (Crowd grader turn in location for Homework #2)
    1. Description of the abstract assignment
      1. Topic for HW2 abstract:  Hechter
    2. Example / Template (copy this and replace text with your abstract)
    3. Abstract due before 11:55 pm Saturday night
    4. Review open Sunday morning until Monday at 11:55 pm
    5. Grading scale for HW2
  4. Symbolic interactionism  (see detailed course schedule to see which weeks reading you will be writing on)
    1. Read and discuss 
      1. Chapter 1 (Symbolic interactionism for Tuesday)
      2. Read Massoglia and Uggen 2010 from week 4 Student course materials
  5. Identity theory
    1. Read and discuss
      1. Chapter 5!
      2. Read Thoits 2012 article from week 5  Student course materials
  6. Social identity theory   (Turn in your abstract from weeks 4,5, or 6 this weekend, see details here)
    1. Read and discuss 
      1. Chapter 6
      2. Read Crabtree, Haslam, Postmes, and Haslam 2010 from week 4 Student course materials
    2. HW#3 Due This Weekend. 
      1. Description of the abstract assignment
        1. Topic for HW3 abstract:  Chapter 1,5, or 6
      2. Example / Template (copy this and replace text with your abstract)
      3. Abstract due before 11:55 pm Saturday night
      4. Review open Sunday morning until Monday at 11:55 pm
  7. Affect control theory
    1. Chapter 7: Affect control theory
    2. Read The dynamic nature of leisure experience by Lee and Shafer  Student course materials
  8. Project work week 1
    1. Tuesday:
      1. Discuss final project plan
      2. Watch "Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world"
    2. Thursday
      1. Order your copy of "Reality is broken"
      2. Project title:  "Group processes, gaming, and building a better world"
  9. Rational choice
    1. Read Chapter 4: Rational Choice
    2. Read African patrimonialism in historical perspective by Kiser and Sacks  Student course materials
  10. Exchange theory   (Turn in your abstract from weeks 7,9, 10 This weekend, Nov 2nd)
    1. Chapter 2  The social exchange framework
    2. Cohesion, cooperation, and the value of doing things together by Kuwabara   Student course materials
    3. Abstract due before 11:55 pm Saturday night
    4. Review open Sunday morning until Monday at 11:55 pm
  11. Power, dependence and social exchange
    1. Chapter 9: Power, dependence and social exchange
    2. Read Robbins et al.  Student course materials
  12. Expectations, status and behavior
    1. Chapter 12:  Expectations, status and behavior
    2. Read Foschi and Valenzuela  Student course materials
  13. Application and integration    (Turn in you abstract from weeks 11,12)
    1. First half of "Reality is Broken"
  14. Application and integration
    1. Second half of "Reality is Broken"  (Turn in your abstract of your chapter from "Reality is Broken")
  15. Project work 2:  Finalize projects
  16. Finals week
    1. Turn in final project

Learning Objectives

Develop your knowledge of contemporary theories of group processes and social psychology.
Develop aptitude for applying those theories to both practical and scholarly research questions through the examination of contemporary research and the development of new potential research studies.

Make connections between concepts and theories introduced in the course and issues of social change in contemporary society.  

Encourage engaged student directed learning. Assignments are designed to provide the basic skills, with plenty of instruction, and then encourage further exploration and development of skills.

Learning Outcomes

There are three fundamental goals in this course: 
  1. Recognize, understand and be able to explain theories of group processes and social psychology.  
  2. Be able to apply those theories to contemporary research questions.  
  3. Apply those theories to issues of inequality, social change and participation in computer mediated interaction.

Assignments and Participation

There are four types of assignments: 

Homework        250                 
Participation     150
Final                100

Note:  Why you need a Gmail / Google account.   You need a google account to create and use google documents.  We will be doing both of those, so if you don't already have a google account that you want to use for school, then you will need to make one.   Here is a link: click!  

Graduate Student Contribution

Graduate students will contribute to the course in three additional ways beyond that of undergraduate students.   Check out the Grad student research interests.
  1. They will meet for an additional hour with Professor Welser to discuss applications of group processes to contemporary society and to develop lesson plans for guiding portions of the full class discussion.
  2. They will generate mini lecture / micro teaching contributions to the class and lead those events. 
  3. The final project of graduate students will be evaluated according to professional academic criteria. 


Homework will integrate a new learning tool that involves all members of the course (faculty and students) in the review and assessment of homework assignments.   We will explore this method from both a practical and theoretical standpoint.  In a practical sense we will investigate how assessing student work impacts student learning outcomes for homework topics.  In a theoretical sense, we will explore how issues of group processes and social psychology are relevant to the process of collective assessment efforts. 

There are 6 homework assignments in this course.  

  1. Digital skills  (25 pts)  
    1. Details of assignment to be decided by class.
    2. Tasks, criteria, and rubric are constructed by the class.  See description on crowdgrader.
  2. Writing skills  (Crowd grader turn in location for Homework #2)  (25 pts)
      1. Description of the abstract assignment
        1. Topic for HW2 abstract:  Hechter
      2. Example / Template (copy this and replace text with your abstract)
      3. Abstract due before 11:55 pm Saturday night
      4. Review open Sunday morning until Monday at 11:55 pm
      5. Grading scale for HW2
  3. CSPT Chapter Set A  (50 pts)  
    1. A research abstract on the chapter and associated research article from weeks 4,5,6.
    2. Each student writes an abstract from just one of the chapters from weeks 4,5,6 according to the lists posted for each week on the detailed course schedule. 
    3. Assignment description, turn in, due dates, and relevant examples. 
  4. CSPT Chapter B  (50 pts)
    1. A research abstract on the chapter and associated research article from weeks 7,8,9.
  5. CSPT Chapter C  (50 pts)
    1. A research abstract on the chapter and associated research article from weeks 10,11.
  6. CSPT Chapter D or Choice Reading (50 pts)
    1. A research abstract on the chapter and associated research article from weeks 12,13.
Homeworks are turned in online at crowd grader.  Details to be explained in class. 


Every week there will be 10 participation points available.   Over 15 weeks of the semester this adds up to 150 points.  If you are absent you can not get participation points from that day.  Prepared students who make valuable contributions to class can expect to get full credit for that day/week.   Mere presence does not necessarily result in any points.   Participation will also take place online through a google plus group where all class members can post relevant items and comments, questions, answers and general commentary.   


The final will be a research proposal that describes a  project that takes advantage of contemporary synergies between theories of group processes and issues of contemporary social change, computer mediated interaction and social media.  Details of the final project will depend partly upon progress of the class during the semester. 

Undergraduate student final projects:  assignment description.
    Undergrad project ideas, post to this spreadsheet.
Graduate student final projects:  assignment description.

Readings and resources

Contemporary Social Psychological Theories, edited by Peter Burke.  Stanford Social Sciences.

Social Norms, edited by Hechter and Opp

Linked online through JSTOR and other library services. 

Contacting me

Stop by my office or send me an email. I am here many more hours than the office hours, (typically between 9:00 and 3:00 are good times to drop in)

Office: Bentley Annex 147
Email:  h.t.welser@gmail.com; welser@ohio.edu

General teaching issues

Attention:  Treat class time like your job, but treat learning like your favorite game.  Try to discover the spark of interest that makes you want to learn more about something and dive into it. 

Attendance:  Be in class everyday, and be ready to do the work that we have planned of that day. If you know you will miss a day it is your job to get your work done ahead of time. You need to inform me well in advance of class if you will not be attending. Participation points can not be made up.

Have fun: This is an upper level / graduate level elective. We are all hear to learn, and the best way to learn is to have fun by getting involved in the work.

Polite electronic communication: Use subjects for your emails like “Soc 101 Project Question” etc. Be brief, courteous and considerate. I will be brief, to the point, and to the best of my abilities, prompt. Send a follow up if you don’t hear back after 24 hours (during the school week).

Take credit for your work only:  I should not need to mention this in this course, but I will include it from my 100 level syllabus:  You should, with pride, lay claim to all of your unique contributions. When you work with others on assignments you should take pains to assure that you know, appreciate, and clearly identify the contributions of each of your colleagues. Deliberate attempts to claim the work of others as your own without clear acknowledgement will be seen as plagiarism and will be severely punished: a grade of F will be assigned to the plagiarized assignment.

Other details

Computers and Software: The CSC is across the street from Bentley. The CSC is good for drop in work, as are: http://www.library.ohiou.edu/serv/computers/software.html

Students with disabilities: I will gladly provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities, with the recommendation of Disability Services, at the Office for Institutional Equity (740-593-2620). Please show me the letter from that office indicating accommodations that you may need for this class.