Assigning students to work in teams on a project can have a lot of benefits for your students’ learning, but those benefits depend on creating successful student teams. Such teams have positive interdependence among members, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, interpersonal skills, and periodic reflection on the team’s performance. How can you design an assignment so that student teams have these characteristics? Here are 4 issues to consider in designing an effective team assignment.
- Design good team assignments. A good team assignment requires students to work together to accomplish the task, and defines how both individual students and the team will be held accountable.
- Construct teams carefully. Instructor-created teams of 3 to 5 students that are heterogeneous demographically as well as in background knowledge and skills can lead to more effective teamwork. You may want to take students’ schedules into account in forming teams, so that each team can find time to meet outside of class.
- Teach teamwork skills. Help students develop guidelines or contracts that outline their expectations for their team members’ behaviors and that define each member’s role. As the instructor, you should also make opportunities to monitor and support the teams as they work (perhaps using in-class time) and help address any issues that may arise.
- Assess student teams. In addition to your own evaluation of the teams, give students opportunities to reflect on their team members’ behaviors using peer evaluations while the teams are working as well as after the project is completed.
Want to learn more about designing effective teamwork? The CITL’s Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) program is sponsoring a talk by Matt Ohland (Purdue University) entitled “Creating and Managing Effective Student Teams.” The talk will be held on April 21 at 1:00 pm in the IMU State Room East. To learn more and register, click here. Or contact CITL to meet with a consultant.