Your learning objects and activities will depend on the maturity of your students, their prior experience and knowledge of conflict management skills, and the amount of class time you choose to invest in conflict management. The following paragraphs provide three examples of possible learning objectives and classroom activities.
Example No. 1
If you are teaching a class in which you will be using student teams and have about twenty minutes for conflict management, you might set the following learning objective and use the following class activity.
Learning Objective: Students should be able to describe their initial responses to conflict and explain benefits of engaging in conflict.
Classroom Activity: Discuss the first page of this document. Ask your students to work in teams and discuss what they think about conflict. Have they had positive or negative outcomes when they have engaged in conflict at work or school? Next, have the students identify their physiological response to conflict: fight or flight. Has the initial conflict response, fight or flight, had positive or negative outcomes? Let the students know, regardless of their physiological response, they can intentionally pick a conflict mode they want to use when in conflict. They do not have to just fight or flee when a conflict arises. Finally, ask students to identify positive outcomes that can occur from engaging in conflict (peace, relief, improved relationship, stronger team, understanding, better communication, greater productivity, etc.). Through identifying how we engage in conflict and recognizing that engaging in conflict can be positive, we are more likely to engage in conflict when necessary.
Example No. 2
If you are teaching a class in which you will be using student teams and have an entire class period to help your students develop their conflict management skills, then you might select the following learning objectives and use the following classroom activities.
Learning Objectives: Students should be able to
• describe the skills necessary to effectively engage in conflict
• describe their approach to conflict in terms of the five conflict management modes
• describe how their comfort level with engaging in conflict has changed (and, hopefully, increased)
Classroom Activities: Ask students to read the first two pages of the document in class. Then, in teams, ask students to share with each other how they think they approach conflict. Ask each team member if he/she is comfortable with his/her conflict management style (most people will report “No”; they wish they were either more assertive or more cooperative). Ask team members to discuss with one another why it is important to understand one another’s conflict styles.
Ask each team to develop ideas on how they will take advantage of the conflict management modes of each its members. Also, team members should discuss where they may have conflict with one another based upon their different conflict styles (more assertive members may dominate, while more cooperative members may become frustrated with competitors, etc.). Call on selected teams for reports on this activity.
Example No. 3
If you are teaching a class in which you will be using student teams and choose to invest a homework assignment and an entire class period in helping your students develop their conflict management skills, then you might select the following learning objectives and use the following classroom activities.
Learning Objectives: Students should be able to
• Identify their conflict management styles
• Describe the skills necessary to effectively engage in conflict
• Describe their approaches to conflict in terms of the five conflict management modes
• Describe how their comfort level with engaging in conflict has changed (and, hopefully, increased)
• Demonstrate improvements in their conflict management skill set
• Create a conflict management plan
Classroom Activities: Ask students to read the entire document before class and ask them to write down how their approach to conflict management may be described in terms of the five modes of conflict management. If possible, allow the students to take the TKI on line.5
Have students review the document and describe skills necessary to effectively engage in conflict. Students should consider what variables should be considered when engaging in conflict with another person. Team members should dialogue about conflict modes to use when another person is using a particular conflict mode. Furthermore, team members should discuss what modes they are comfortable using and what modes will they have to practice using effectively. Team members should identify times to use each of these modes effectively.
Instruct the students: Discernment and practice are the primary ways to grow comfortable with using each of these five modes. Practice using the different conflict modes (as appropriate) when your team is in conflict or when you have a conflict at home.
Next, challenge the students to write a conflict management plan.8
Through being able to identify that we are in conflict and by implementing a predesigned conflict management plan, one can most effectively solve his/her conflicts.
Finally, with the remaining time, ask the students to complete three activities on conflict management. Select students to share their answers in class. Ask the students to share what they have learned about conflict management, how they will apply this information, and to evaluate if they believe they can more successfully manage their team conflicts as they arise. Below are suggested activities from 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution10 and Joining Together.11
Lambert and Myers,
50 Activities for Conflict Resolution10
• Activity Identifying Helpful Communication Styles, p. 13
• Benefits and Barriers: Exploring Third-party Intervention, p. 35
• Assumptions: Who Needs Them?, p. 47
• Brainstorming: The Case of the Stolen Account, p. 61
• Exploring Sources of Conflict, p. 91
• How to Deal with Hot Buttons, p. 109
• Why People Avoid Dealing with Conflict Resolution, p. 115
• Uncovering the Hidden Agenda, p. 139
• Supportive Listening: What’s Your Score?, p. 151
• Fact vs. Opinion, p. 155
• Escalate vs. Acknowledge: The Choice is Yours, p. 157
Johnson and Johnson,
Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills11
• Exercise 8.1 Controversy (Teams of four create a paper in which they reach consensus on a controversial issue)
• Exercise 8.2 Your Behavior in Controversies (Become more aware of your actions in a controversy)
• Exercise 8.6 The Johnson School (Defining a problem from diverse information)
• Exercise 8.7 Avoiding Controversies (Produce feedback about how other group members see your behavior in controversies and disagreements)
• Exercise 8.13 Your Behavior in Controversies