A Year in an SPS Chapter

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Professional Development - Tips to Build Your Career

A Year in an SPS Chapter


Kerry Kidwell-Slak, Associate Director, Society of Physics Students & Sigma Pi Sigma

With spring upon us, many SPS chapters are holding elections and considering who will lead the group into the next academic year. Whether you are interested in elected office or not, just being a member of your local chapter means you have the ability and even the responsibility to improve the health of your chapter and make it the best it can be. To do this effectively, it’s helpful to understand the life cycle of a group—how groups coalesce and learn to thrive.

One helpful model for understanding chapter development is Tuckman and Jensen’s model of group development.1 Their assertion was that while every group will have its own personality, successes, and challenges, groups tend to follow similar patterns in how they learn to function and progress through a series of stages. They use the mnemonic of Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing – Adjourning to capture each of these points. How long each group spends in each stage can vary, but the progression generally stays consistent. Let’s explore each one and how you might be able to implement activities for your chapter that take advantage of your stage. //

1. Tuckman, Bruce W., & Jensen, Mary Ann C. (1977). “Stages of small group development revisited,” Group and Organizational Studies, 2, 419–427.
2. Adapted from “Group Development,” (2015). A presentation by the Office of Student Activities and Involvement at James Madison University.

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