Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3 - 19

Group Process as a Tool

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS
WITH GROUP PROCESS
Considerable concerns have been raised
related to validity and reliability of group
process (Berg & Stoner, 2016; McDaniel et
al., 1994; Smooke, 2017; Tran & Blackman,
2006). Group process may raise candidate
anxiety (House et al., 2015) and decrease
frankness (Tran & Blackman, 2006). There
is little privacy in group process as there are
generally several observers and candidates
present. Sometimes group process may be
implemented in a large room, wherein one
might be overheard by dozens of people.
This insufficient privacy has been found to
contribute to participants' perspectives on
group interview fairness (Tran & Blackman,
2006). Knowledge of being observed and
evaluated has been demonstrated to effect
one's behaviors (Cook, 1962), which contributes to trustworthiness concerns.
	
Furthermore, one's behavior in a group
is often affected by other group members.
An introverted candidate may behave differently when in a group of introverts compared
to a group of extroverts. This seemingly simple concept raises concerns for validity of
observations. If a student behaves differently during group process because of group
composition, then the observations may not
be fair or accurate. Unnatural or atypical
candidate behavior in a group setting may
be exacerbated by a bad day, feeling unwell,
having difficulty managing stress, upcoming
academic assignments, and any number of
other external factors. It has also been expressed that group facilitators, those who
provide instructions to the group, have influence over the participants (Leshem, 2012).
This may arise from inconsistent instructions or approach when the facilitator is the

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The Journal of College and University Student Housing

same across all activities for a group or when
there are different facilitators for each activity. Ben-Shachar and Beller (1993, as cited in
Leshem, 2012) " define[d] interviews as complex social situations whose outcomes often
depend on facilitators' mannerisms and
actions " (p. 2). Beyond these mannerisms
and actions, the training, supervision, and
debriefing of evaluators is key. For instance,
if evaluators are using a rubric to assess candidates, is there training and general agreement as to what the scores in a rubric represent? Is there space for assessment to occur
beyond the accepted rubric? Even seemingly
simple elements like the day's logistics can
have unintended consequences. A fresh and
enthusiastic attitude in the morning could
eventually wane as the day wears on.
	
Group process is often oriented towards
RA candidates-which is understandable as
they are the individuals seeking the position.
Campuses employing group process should
certainly keep considerations for these individuals front and center as they coordinate
the day. Organizers should likewise attend
to evaluator needs. Evaluator training, supervision, debriefing, time commitment, and
similar factors coalesce to impact both the
process and what comes after.
	
It is often difficult to account for prior
contact between candidates and observers
and among candidates, whether positive or
negative. Imagine, if you will, a randomly assigned group including two students
who lived next door to each other and often
argued over noise levels. Consider the observer, a current RA, who knows about these
issues from a friend who lived on the same
floor or from their own observations. Especially likely on smaller campuses, these prior relationships can influence behavior and
performance evaluation data.



Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3

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