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Video Case Study of Hoosiers

Norma Webb reviewed research regarding small group dynamics and its influence on participation in change. Managing the movement of individuals and groups through an interaction phase, will facilitate the desired end achievement. This interaction phase involves the skills, attitude, and structure within a given situation. She proves that controlling these interaction characteristics between individual and groups is vital in meeting a forecasted goal (1982).

Using the motion picture, Hoosiers, as a case study in this area offers insight into group dynamics as they pertain to change in a small setting. The replacement of a beloved basketball coach by a newcomer, who has not seen a court in 13 years, disturbs the town, team and faculty within the small rural school. Accustomed to doing things a certain way, Coach Norman Dale, must struggle against their expectations for acceptance. The most dynamic interaction comes from the overly supportive parents who have a difficult time accepting the coach’s strange ways of instruction.

In applying Webb’s theory regarding the first of these factors, the skills of the coach are vital in managing the desired outcome of the situation. The input characteristic of Coach Dale’s skill set does not appear to involve active reasoning in an attempt to alleviate the parent’s questions regarding his teaching styles. The skill set comes forward in knowing the goal, analyzing the best way to get there, and then proceeding to do so. Webb’s second characteristic to influence change comes in the attitude of the coach towards the parents, players and game.

Norman Dale does not allow these outside influences affect his personal attitude. This barrier motivates the team to do the same. In the film, Jimmy Chitwood has a major influence on the town’s people in that he offers to play the game again, only if Coach Dale is allowed to remain as coach. In trusting that the coach has the right motives in mind, Jimmy announcement moves the vote to remove Dale as coach drastically. The coach creates a structure for practices wherein strict adherence to laws set into motion is vital.

When the format is questioned in the early portion of the film, Dale tells the belligerent players to leave, even though his team has been cut to five people. His ability to control the format of practice allows him to influence the team on the grounds of cohesiveness and functionality within the team. In demanding this appropriated structure, Dale gains the respect of one parent who in turn forces his son to apologize and play on the team under Dale’s rules. Once the unit functions as a whole, the outside opinions are left to the side.

In managing the process to achieving the desired goal, Dale must attempt control of each factor. By pulling in additional outside influencers (parents, teachers, etc. ), Dale affects the outcome by allowing intervention. Because the intervention is external and familiar, the team and town adhere to the influence and succumb to the change in the end. Having said that, the goal is not met because Norman Dale has a superbly talented team or because the other teams are weak; it is because the team has made the mental choice to win and will follow the guidance of the coach to get there.

According to Webb, change cannot occur, particularly in a student/teacher environment, unless the students are willing to change (1982). In motivating the team and proving himself as a worthy coach, Dale manages to meet the goal and influence the outcome through skill, attitude, structure and situational control.


DeHaven, C. (Producer), & Anspaugh, D. (Director). (1986). Hoosiers [Motion Picture]. United States: MGM Studios. Webb, N. M. (Autumn 1982). “Student interaction and learning in small groups. ” Review of Educational Research 52(3), 421-445.

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