Group Dynamics, Leadership, and Influence

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Paul Leeming, Stuart Cunningham, Kwansei Gakuin University


Group work is central to most approaches to language teaching, and yet there is a very limited body of research in SLA which considers how group dynamics may impact on the processes of interaction and language learning. Within group dynamics leadership is an area of importance, but this topic has remained untouched by researchers in our field. This mixed-method study, conducted in a 1-week summer intensive English course for 3rd-year university science majors, considered factors which predict the emergence of leadership within the groups in the classroom, and also the impact of leaders on the learning experience of group members. Results suggest that predicting leadership is a complex process, and that the emergence of leadership may have a significant impact on the autonomy of individuals within the group.