Group Project Description

 

Over the course of the semester, your group will work as a team of communication consultants who will help a local non-profit organization in identifying, assessing, and improving some aspect of their organizations communication.  The specific nature of the project (i.e. the problem you seek to address) will be the outcome of a negotiation between your team and the client organization (in consultation with the course instructor).

 

Project Description/Requirements:

 

  • Each group will identify a local non-profit client organization by Monday, September 14 (while this is the absolute deadline, the sooner your group identifies such an organization, the better).  This organization may be an organization that one (or more) of your group members is already a member of.  It may not, however, be an organization whose mission any group member is uncomfortable with.  In short, the organization must be mutually agreeable to all group members.  If you need help locating such an organization, you might find the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center on campus useful.  The Bennion Center (581-4811) is located on the first floor of the Union.  You must use the introductory letter provided in class when soliciting participation from potential client organizations!!!  Once you have identified the organization, your group needs to submit to me a one-page document including: 1) a brief description of the organization; 2) a rationale for why you have chosen this organization (including, perhaps, a preview of what your project might ultimately entail; and, most importantly, 3) complete contact information for your primary contact person at the client organization!!!

 

  • Each group member is required to provide the client organization with five (5) hours of volunteer service, in the capacity that the organization typically uses “normal” volunteers.  These hours will provide you with an introduction to the organization that will help you identify the types of communication issues that your team might seek to address.  This volunteer work (and accompanying individual essay) must be completed by Monday, October 3 (but, again, the earlier the better).

 

  • After group members have completed their initial volunteer service with the organization, the team will negotiate with the client organization to collaboratively identify an organizational communication issue/problem that they will investigate and address over the duration of the semester.  From this negotiation, the team and client organization will produce a contract governing what the project will look like.  This contract needs to outline: 1) The parameters of the project itself (what will and will not be addressed); 2) The degree of access that the client organization will provide the team (e.g., Who can you speak with?  When?); 3) The nature of the final product your team will deliver to the organization (The requirements in this syllabus are the default requirements, but they may change for your group based on the organization’s needs); 4) A schedule including deadlines for completion of all tasks (When will you complete your interviews and/or observations?  When will you present your findings/recommendations); and, 5) Any other issues that either your team or your client organization deems important.  A signed copy of this contract is due Wednesday, October 12 (but, again, that’s an absolute deadline: the sooner, the better!).

 

  • Each team will then develop and implement a research plan to assess the communication issue within the client organization.  This may include interviews, surveys, focus groups, observation, textual analysis of organizational documents, or other strategies, as determined by the specific nature of the project.  From this research, and drawing on research done by other organizational communication specialists on the specific problem the group is addressing, each team will produce a set of recommendations/solutions that they will propose to the client organization.  The results of this research and subsequent recommendation will be compiled in a 12-15 page research report, which will be made available to the client organization.  Because you will be providing the report to the client organization, be thinking of ways in which you can best present your findings to a professional, rather than an academic audience.  Research reports are due Monday, November 28 (but I will be happy to look at multiple drafts of each report in advance!).

 

  • Finally, each team will also prepare a 30 minute presentation that they will deliver to the organization, outlining their research and recommendations.  Before teams present to the organizations, however, they will conduct a “dress rehearsal” in front of the class to receive feedback before meeting with the client organization.  This “dress rehearsal” counts for the presentation portion of each group’s grade.  Each group will present their findings on the date identified on the syllabus (Groups may switch dates, if each group agrees).

 

  • Each group will be evaluated by their client organization, both for their professionalism and for the quality of the project delivered.  This evaluation will be provided for in the group contract with the client organization.  Client organizations need to provide me with an evaluation by Friday, December 16.

 

  • Finally, you will submit a brief evaluation of your group members, including your self.  In this evaluation, you will provide a numeric grade (using the grading scale outlined on this syllabus) for each member of your group, including yourself.   You will support each member’s grade with a solid paragraph justifying why you have assigned that grade.  I will caluculate an evaluation grade by dropping the high and the low evaluations, and averaging the remaining scores.  Group evaluations need to be e-mailed to me by noon on Friday, December 16.

 

 

Grade Distribution:

 

Your overall group project grade will be broken down as follows:

 

Identification of Organization (5%)

Contract w/ Organization (15%)

Research Report (30%)

Presentation of Findings (30%)

Organization Evaluation (10%)

Group Evaluations (10%)

 

A Final Note on Group Work:

 

Group work can be either one of the most frustrating or rewarding experiences of a college career.  But it is an essential one, regardless.  As such, I expect that each group will strive to work through inevitable problems on its own.  Such conflict management is part of what makes group work so valuable.  In rare cases, however, the instructor may be brought in to help mediate significant group conflict.  In even rarer cases, a group may decide that removal of a group member is necessary.  Such cases may only occur 1) with the unanimous approval of the remaining group members and 2) after extensive consultation with the instructor.