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The thought of the group between resources and criticism in higher education
We know the importance of the group as a tool in the learning process (Gaudet et al., 2010; Kagan, 1989) and as a device capable of ensuring the acquisition of reflexivity (Schön, 1993) in socially situated, relational and collective processes (Reynolds and Vince, 2004). Practices such as cooperative learning and peer education, through discourse, confrontation, negotiation and dialogic processes structure the meanings of knowledge and increase resources in terms of acquisition of skills (outcome). However, in education, studies which focus on the “subject group” with the monitoring and evaluation of group processes, still appear few. Transformative factors such as cohesiveness (Yalom, 1970), mirroring (Foulkes, 1964; 1975), interpersonal learning and universalisation, which appear to be relevant in therapeutic contexts, should be reconsidered with specific “variants” in training contexts; this is possible in some frameworks which consider the “thought of the group” as generated by an intersubjective construction of knowledge which is always anchored to a relationship. We believe that rather than “the group tout court”, there are some conditions (i.e. the setting) which carry transformative instances, so we aim to show some specificity of the group-thinking in learning contexts. Students of psychology have analysed some clinical cases individually and in small groups of work; subsequently they reflected on them through some reports, alternating the individual approach to that of the group. The texts, divided into “individual narratives” and “narratives of group”, were analyzed with the T-LAB software (Lancia, 2004). A questionnaire constructed ad hoc investigated the representation of students of the potential and the criticism learning in group compared with the individual learning. The comparative analysis between the individual and grouppal reports revealed the use of different languages, allowing us to infer the presence of a thought of group characterized by some specificity. Promoting the reflexivity, “in group”, on both the contents and the dynamics, makes it possible to bring in the foreground what, remaining in the background, sometimes gives resistances to transformative process (Pichon Rivière, 1971).