November 2006


Scott B. Watson

Primary Subject Area

Education, Administration


conflict, Karen Jehn, cooperative learning, groups, process conflict


The first purpose of this research was to determine if minimal training on the concepts and effects of relational, task, and process conflict would have an effect on proportional process conflict (Jehn, 2000) in undergraduate cooperative learning groups. Proportional process conflict is explained as the amount of process conflict in proportion to relational and task conflict and to the overall amount of conflict within the group. The second purpose was to increase knowledge about the cultural patterns and perspectives of undergraduate cooperative learning groups. The sample consisted of 68 undergraduate students from four classes of the same course at a Christian university. Two classes were given conflict training and two classes were not given the training. In order to obtain quantitative data, the Conflict Survey, with a Likert-type scale, was formed by combining questions from the refined Intragroup Conflict Scale (Pearson, Ensley & Amason, 2002)with questions from Shah and Jehn’s survey (1993). The Conflict Survey was administered at the beginning, middle and end of the semesters. The Bales Interaction Process Analysis (Forsyth, 1983), informal interviews, and conversations were used to gather qualitative information. Results of the one-tailed t-tests showed no significant differences in the proportional process conflict between the undergraduate cooperative learning groups. The analyses of the Conflict Survey and the Bales Interaction Process Analysis indicated low amounts of relational, task, and process conflict in all of the cooperative learning groups. This indicates low levels of proportional process conflict in the cooperative learning groups. In contrast, informal conversations and observations revealed considerable relational and process conflict in some groups.