Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3 - 25

Group Process as a Tool

questions we believe will aid practitioners to
develop a stronger, more intentional group
process or revise an existing effort.

What is the Purpose of Your Group Process?
Some of the deficits of group process can
be overcome by evaluating the purpose of
group process for your institution. Perhaps
your intent is to educate candidates about the
RA role or familiarize them with department
culture and expectations. There are also alternatives to using data from group process
to select candidates. Lafayette College, for
instance, uses information from their group
process to inform decisions about staff placement (G. Reynolds, personal communication, May 14, 2019). Clearly articulating the
intent of group process will provide guidance
for it, much as a mission statement offers direction for an institution.

What are RAs Expected to do on Your
Campus?
The emphasis of the RA position has shifted
over time and, on many campuses, is now
more focused on individual interactions
and relationships (Stoner, 2019b). For these
campuses, the value of group process may
be minimal. Implementing role playing or a
case study might be better ways to evaluate
skills relevant to one-on-one interactions.
	
Likewise, departments should consider
how much the RA position focuses on group
interactions and adjust their scoring accordingly (Stoner, 2019a). For example, if RAs
are expected to devote 15% of their time to
group interactions, then perhaps group process should account for approximately 15%
of their overall candidate evaluation; the application, recommendations, individual interview and other elements should account
for 85% of the hiring decision. Weighting
group process disproportionately with job re-

22

The Journal of College and University Student Housing

quirements will likely result in less effective,
and perhaps less ethical, hiring decisions.

Are Your RA Position and Group Process
Aligned?
In order to assure trustworthiness in group
process and selection overall, departments
should consider if the RA job description
and related expectations are congruent with
evaluation metrics and group activities. For
instance, if the position description requires
facilitating community meetings, elements
of leadership would be listed on the evaluation form. The group process task might
involve planning a community meeting,
including how to assure appropriate leadership of it (with an accompanying description
of leadership). This approach helps assure
some validity in group process. The specific
RA task selected for this approach is less important than the process candidates may use
to execute on that task in the group interaction. Similarly, nuances of the RA position
should not be evaluated in these circumstances. The candidate, for instance, may
not know that funds for ice cream cannot
be requested for their community meeting
and thus should not be negatively evaluated
if they offer this idea.
	
Trustworthiness can also be provided by
appropriately training evaluators. Beyond
written descriptions of what to observe,
evaluators should be carefully educated on
group dynamics, external influences, cultural phenomena, inherent bias, and the
purpose of their roles. This can be tested
via a mini interrater reliability exercise determining if evaluators rate or score candidates similarly and then adjusting the activities, rating forms, and training as needed.
Consider a neutral, external observer who
can offer their feedback on the group and



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

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