Alongside this a considerable amount of mutual aid activity developed during the nineteenth century especially around chapels, meeting houses, working men’s clubs and in the field of adult education (see, for example, Smith 1988 on the making of popular youth work; Horton Smith 2000; Rose 2002). There was also a growing appreciation of group process and sophistication in approach within adult education. However, it was with developments in psychology and sociology (with the emergence of ‘small group theory’ and studies of group dynamics, for example) that the scene for a more thorough building of theory about working with groups – particularly in north America. Alongside this, the influence of progressive education as a philosophy – particularly through the work of John Dewey and William Kilpatrick – began to be felt by many practitioners (see Reid 1981a ).
Give students a way to ask for help when the group isn’t functioning well. Many of the students I talked with described having wanted help with a struggling group, but feeling that they couldn’t ask for it. Stuidents may feel uncomfortable asking instructors to resolve problems, or feel unsure that they will be able to help. It can be useful to outline guidelines for what to do if a group is facing difficulty, and design a mechanism (., mid-project peer reviews) for students to comment on group functioning. Finally, if groups are experiencing difficulty, try to provide some support or feedback so that students feel that their comments are being responded to.