The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief history of group cohesiveness and academic language research. Each topic area is discussed in terms of its relevance to first-generation language minority community college students.
Group Cohesiveness: History and Relation To First-Generation
Language-Minority Community College Students
Groups may be formed voluntarily or spontaneously because of a felt need to socialize or to accomplish a practical aim, or they may be convened by some external authority like a school board or a legislature. Once members find themselves in relatively frequent association with one another, however, they are likely to develop some degree of mutual attraction. The extent to which a group is found attractive by its members has been termed "group cohesion" (Evans & Jarvis, 1980).
Feldman and Arnold (1983) report that the early research on group cohesion examined the phenomenon from a social psychology perspective. For example, Gross and Martin (19 ) explored group cohesiveness as part of their general interest in social influence. However, shortly after the publication of this initial work on the social psychology of group cohesiveness, researchers began to investigate the phenomenon for its relevance to work and business settings (Feldman & Arnold, 1983).
In somewhat more current research, group cohesion--both as a process of attraction and a group phenomenon--has been investigated and applied to educational settings (e.g. Rosenfeld & Gilbert, 1989). One particular application has been to the non-traditional student such as ethnic minorities, older people, and language-minority students. The focus of this application has been to assist the nontraditional student to develop those interpersonal bonds that build commitment to the college and that foster success in their academic roles (Gilley & Hawks, 1989).
Application of group cohesiveness to the minority student in general an...