Mediation and Conflict Management
Michael Belsky, Ed.D.
Jonathan Lange, Ph.D.
Meet the Facilitators
Welcome to "Mediation and Conflict Management," an introductory course in dispute resolution. The objectives of the course are, briefly, to: 1) acquaint you with an overview of the major theoretical approaches to dispute resolution, and 2) enable you to understand the requisite knowledge of and perform the requisite skills in the mediation of disputes. A few examples of this knowledge base and skill set include:
- understanding the fundamental structure of mediation and negotiation;
- understanding how culture, gender and other factors might affect mediation;
- becoming aware of the ethical concerns and standards of mediation practice;
- being able to perform communication skills such as "reframing," "normalization," and "hypothetical agreement building;" and
- being able to document and write mediated agreements.
Completion certificate: This course meets the qualifications and minimum training requirements as set out by the Oregon Dispute Resolution Commission. Participants who demonstrate knowledge and competence in basic mediation skills will be awarded a certificate of course completion.
TEXTS: Slaikeu, Karl A. When Push Comes to Shove: A Practical Guide to Mediation Disputes. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1996 (This book is required for all students.) Graduate students are also to read the following: (it is optional for undergraduates) Kolb, Deborah M. & Assoc. (Eds.), When Talk Works: Profiles of Mediators. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1994.
UNDERGRADUATE EVALUATION: For undergraduates only, grading is based on a "contract" system, with all assignments graded on a pass/no pass basis. That is, you choose the grade you want by passing the necessary requirements. (Graduate students' system is outlined below.)
For undergraduates, to receive a "C" grade you must:
- attend class regularly and participate,
- pass the final exam, and
- complete the "Written Agreement" assignment
For undergraduates, to receive a "B" grade you must:
- attend class regularly and participate,
- pass the final exam,
- complete the "Written Agreement" assignment and
- complete the "Self-Evaluation" assignment
For undergraduates, to receive an "A" grade you must:
- attend class regularly and participate,
- pass the final exam,
- complete both the "Written Agreement" and "Self-Evaluation" assignments and
- complete either 12 annotations or a research paper
UNDERGRADUATE GRADING: While grading of all assignments will be on a pass/no pass basis, we still expect that you will strive for excellence in each endeavor that you take on. This grading system turns over to the student an unusual amount of the responsibility for learning; that is, it's up to you to make these assignments meaningful and worthwhile. Should any of your work not receive a passing grade, your final grade will be lowered one full grade from the "contract" that you chose. For example, if you pass all the assignments, but fail the exam, you receive a "B" in the course. Similarly, if you pass the exam and two assignments, but fail on a third, you would receive a "B." We will attempt to make the criteria for passing assignments as clear as possible, presented in class in both written and oral form. Due dates will be announced in class. Clarification for certificate of completion requirements will also be presented. Also, please know that some of the best, hardest-working students choose a contract grade other than "A." We respect your choice.
GRADUATE STUDENT EVALUATION AND GRADING: Graduate students are required to complete all assignments. (However, you will choose either the research paper or the annotations, not both). Your work will be graded on a 4.0 system (1.8 to 2.75 = C; 2.8 to 3.4 = B; 3.5 to 4.0 = A) and should be more thorough and comprehensive than undergraduates'. The graduate students' exam will have additional (and more extensive) questions.
Assignment percentage breakdown for graduate students:
|Research Paper or Annotations||25%|
EXAM: For both undergraduates and graduates, the final will be an essay, take-home exam. To pass, undergraduates must do "C" work. Due date to be announced.
ATTENDANCE: We expect that all of you will be here for every minute of every class session. The most important parts of the class happen in class. Missing more than half a day (total) constitutes a "no pass" for the attendance requirement. This would lower your grade and could nullify your certificate of completion. We take attendance very seriously; exceptions will be made only in extreme circumstances and we would rather not make them. Plan to be in class for the full time.
PARTICIPATION: We can not overemphasize the direct relationship between your effective participation and our entire workshop experience. That is, the success of this class will be in great part determined by how well you participate. It is critical that you effectively participate verbally and nonverbally. By this we mean that you listen attentively and with respect to anyone speaking and that you offer ideas, examples, and questions that aid the communication learning climates. You are expected to participate fully in all role plays.
- Grades of incomplete (I) will be assigned if the criteria, as outlined in the school catalog, are met. You must request an "I" in advance, and you must have sufficient reason for that request.
- All papers must be typed or computed, one and a half or double-spaced with reasonable margins, with attention paid to spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors. These should be minimized. (Please note: These types of mechanical errors are responsible more than any other single weakness that moves us to assign a "No Pass" grade.)
- You should know now that it will be difficult for you to gauge your grade performance as we proceed. This is one of the consequences of the dates in this course.
- Late paper policy: Late papers put us--as well as other students--in an awkward situation. Lateness is often met with extreme consequences outside academia. Still we realize that things do happen to cause lateness, so our policy on late papers includes the following: a) we may not accept them at all, but if we do, the paper's lateness must be cleared with us in advance of the time they are due, and you must have a good reason to request the extension, b) a few days is the maximum extension, c) they will be read in a cursory manner, with few to no comments other than a grade, d) the grade will be "lowered" in some manner, i.e., a full grade for graduate students; to a low pass for undergraduates. (If the paper is already low pass, a late low pass paper fails.) Please try your hardest to avoid this situation.
- If you miss a part of the seminar, it is your responsibility to find out everything that you missed (notes, assignment changes, etc.). Please do not ask us what you missed; ask a classmate.
- Confidentiality: Much of our time in class will be in lecture-discussion and role-play. We will also have a number of videotapes and guest speakers. It is possible that in the course of discussion or role play, a student colleague will say something personally important and confidential. It is your duty to maintain confidentiality. These principles hold when talking with "real" mediation clients. In actual mediations, the confidential materials and communication events are not subject to disclosure in any judicial or administrative proceedings. (Exceptions are explained in ORS36.220 to 36.238. More on this later.) In sum, all confidential communication shared in class must not be discussed outside of class. You are invited to meet with either instructor should you want to discuss this.
- Continuing Education: Graduate credit or certification from SOU meets the requirements for LCSW Continuing Education. Southern Oregon University is an approved provider (#04327) of continuing education hours for the National Board for Certified Counselors. The Oregon State Bar has approved the program for 40 CLE hours (35 practical skills or general and 5 legal ethics).
- Information on the assignments follows and/or will be explained in class. Your "Written Agreement" assignment will be based on a role play, conducted in class, in which disputants actually reach an agreement. You will document that agreement. Other assignments are made clear below. (Self-Evaluation, Annotations) and/or will be discussed in class.
- Please answer each question below, either one at a time, or in a paper that at some point addresses all the questions. Approx. page length: 4-6 pgs.
- What draws you to a class in dispute resolution? Were there any precipitating factors in your youth? Is there something about your (current or anticipated) job that motivated you to take the class? To what types of mediation are you drawn?
- How would you characterize your "conflict style?" What did you advocate during the ABlue-Red@ game? Are you more likely to avoid, accommodate, compete, or cooperate? Do you use all four "styles" depending on the situation? How predominate is one over the others? What do you gain and lose as a result of your style? How do others= feel about your style? How would this affect your mediation style?
- When observing role plays, what did you observe? What does that tell you about yourself? (That is, what we observe is always in some ways a reflection of ourselves, and so what do your observations suggest about you and mediation and conflict management?)
- With what parts of the class did you especially "resonate?" That is, what did you find yourself thinking that might help you evaluate yourself with regard to conflict management and mediation. What parts of the class did you ignore, resist, dismiss, or find uncomfortable, etc.? This may tell you something as well. What might that be? (Dig a bit.)
- Based on past experience (if you have any), the class role plays, your reading of Slaikeu (and other ADR texts if you've read some) and any other relevant place from which you can draw, identify what you think are your (likely) strengths and weaknesses as a mediator. At what do you seem to be especially good? On what skills and techniques must you work especially hard at improving?
- What opportunities might you create so that you can work on self-improvement? Honestly, how committed are you to create these opportunities?
- What else should you add to more thoroughly fill out this self-evaluation as you analyze the relationship between you, mediation, and conflict management?
Annotations are to be taken from academic journal articles. They present all pertinent bibliographic information, discuss contents, identify methods used (if relevant) and provide a brief evaluation. Each annotation should be approximately one full typewritten page, normal font and spacing.
All annotations MUST be on articles about some element of mediation, negotiation and/or conflict management. You should take up to no more than three different topical areas (e.g., children of divorce, cross cultural mediation, environmental disputes); you may focus on just one or two if you wish.
The three main journals that will always have articles include The Negotiation Journal, The Journal of Mediation Quarterly and The Journal of Conflict Resolution. Please be careful with these journals as they are in great demand; they serve a large number of students who use them regularly.
Additionally, you can flip through various communication journals such as Communication Monographs, Communication Education, Human Communication Research, or Journal of Applied Communication. You can also look at various psychology, sociology and business journals to find articles. Some of the business journals include Organizational Dynamics, Personnel, Group and Organization Studies, Academy of Management Review, Training, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science and many more. A strong psychology journal is Journal of Marriage and Family; there are others. Once you find an article to your liking, you may wish to use that article's bibliography to find related articles.
Another direct route would be to identify an area, and then use one of the library data bases. Ask your reference librarian for help in using electronic data bases. You could also start with an article cited in your text, and go from there.
Do not use the "abstract" from the journal cover or article first page, even though it is similar to your task.
You are not to use "popular" magazines (e.g., Psychology Today, Mademoiselle, etc.) While some of these have decent information, we want you to delve into academic texts.