One factor that impacts learning in a small group is size. While other factors such as teacher, room size, and room set up affect learning, the size of the group also matters. Many small group leaders suggest between 6-15 in a small group for optimal learning. David Francis and Rick Howerton, in their booklet entitled “Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Groups ” says, “Don’t expect great conversations in a group over 17-20. Unless you break into smaller groups for that purpose” (p31).
The bigger the group the tendency is to move from discussion to lecture. People retain only 10% after 3 days of hearing a lecture. The learning and retention rate escalates to 80% with discussion and participation. Why settle for 10% when you can achieve 80%?
I was in a weekly small group of 8. Our teacher gave us an overview of the lesson and divided us into 2 groups for discussion. The 2 groups then shared, gave feedback and allowed time for personal application. I learned a lot and retained more because of this small group dynamic. I’m sure we would have run out of time if we had large group with 4 or more groups discussing and sharing. Other benefits of having a small group of 6-15 is a higher trust level which leads to deeper sharing and the ease of mobilizing the group for ministry within the community.
The size of the group does impact learning. Discuss with other small group leaders and evaluate the group size to see how it can maximize in its learning and application.
Leadership Development Director
Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention