Bringing experiential educational groups to the United States: an analysis of group development in an international travel and study program
International exchanges and travel and study projects have been gaining popularity in many fields including social work. Embedded in a group context, the success of these initiatives depends heavily on the group process of all members involved. This article analyzes the impact group dynamics have on an international travel and study project that brought 11 doctoral students and their dean from Ethiopia for a one-month experiential education program. A model of group development, which emphasizes behavioral outcomes in groups (forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning), is presented as an organizing framework. The discussion draws on a qualitative analytical study, which revisits Tuckman's model, and proposes a revised model that defines group development stages by individual, group, purpose, and work concerns that drive conflict throughout all group stages. Implications for social work education include de-emphasizing stages of group development, being mindful about what is known about small groups, and improving empirical research and training for leading international groups.