Clear pixel

Instructional Design
Work-Based Learning
Work-Place Relevant
TOP Codes
Skills & Technology

Clear pixel
Image Clear pixel Image
Clear pixel
Home About us Contact
Work-based Learning
Winning Opportunities for Work-Based Learning


Opportunities for Building Teamwork Work in Business and CIS Courses:
Interactive Paper #3

This lesson reviews some of the ideas and strategies for using teams and developing team skills in your courses. Again, you can use the context of your course but use collaborative strategies to help students build these all important team skills. 
Importance of Teams

According to the Wharton School of Business, …As companies are forced to rely more heavily on teamwork to compete, capabilities in building and leading teams have become crucial to success…  It is, therefore imperative that imagestudents have opportunities to work on and study about successful interactions of teams. Including team activities and projects into your courses can prove valuable in developing these skills.

 Teaching Teamwork Skills is also espoused in this MIT article,…But education in the so-called "soft skills" includes not only training in writing and public speaking; it also entails improving social and interpersonal communication skills such as leadership and the ability to work with others in teams.
Research at the Center for the Study of Work Teams at the University of North Texas indicates that as we enter the 21st century, 80% of Fortune 500 companies will have half their employees on teams. The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identifies the ability to work on teams as one of its five-workplace competencies.

 FAST Company Magazine, one of the premier on-line, global magazines, cites to showcase the teams and individuals who are inventing the future and reinventing business as part of their mission statement. It is clear that education, government and industry alike believe that teamwork is an important facet of today’s world. Business Week reported that self-directed work teams are, on average, 30 to 50 percent more productive than their conventional counterparts.

Effectively Using Teams

Maybe you have tried to use teams in your courses and not been particularly satisfied with the results.  It’s hard work to coordinate and deal with the problems and challenges of a team-based course.  Review this paper written by a professor from North Carolina State University. Richard Felder has used teams in his courses for over 15 years and has some valuable insights and ideas about the team process.

imageWant to do more collaborative learning in your classroom? Here is a site that has extraordinary information. Begin by reading this short but idea-packed article on, The Finer Points of Working with Groups. Be sure to check out the information in the left-hand column for all this site can offer you. There is plenty of information at this (NISE) National Institute for Science Education sponsored site to make you a collaborative learning expert. So save it on your favorites.

Here is a short course on Teaching with Teams. Just the thing to get you started. On this first page you can read a bit about the research on teams and learning, as well as the differences between cooperative and collaborative teams. There is pretty good consensus about the fact that working on teams helps people learn. Is there an equal consensus on why they learn better on teams?

Cooperative learning center at University of Minnesota offers an excellent definition of cooperative learning. This article is lengthy and you may want to review the basic definition at the beginning, the "Outcomes of Cooperation" graph, towards the end, and the last 2 paragraphs on "Back to Basics."

If you do incorporate teams in your classroom, here is a site that is useful in evaluating an individual’s suitability to teamwork. You could have team members complete the assessment and compare notes. This quick survey gives good information for discussion.

 Why not take a few minutes to evaluate yourself and your leadership? After all, you are the leader of your classroom. Take the 15 question “How Well Do You Lead” Leadership Style Inventory. When you arrive at the site click on the “try our coaching” in the upper right hand corner of the screen.  Are you able to relate this assessment to your classroom or did you think it was only for a business? What feedback did you find valuable?

Team Skills for Business and CIS Courses

  • Identify the Characteristics of High Performance Teams

    Here is yet another term you will find in business- high performance team. What exactly is a high performance team? Go to this site and see if you can figure out the meaning. Are these the kind of teams you would like to develop in your classes? Could you relate your role to that of a coach? How is instructor different from coach? How are they the same?

  • Prepare Students for the Stages of Team Development

    Researchers are finding that tomorrow’s successful enterprises are more likely to be led not by visionary individuals but by "smart teams." Understanding the team process is key to developing strong, innovative teams. As a group is first formed members need to get to know each other and learn how to interact effectively. Do you think your students understand this process? Do you think they know that teams need to form, storm and norm before they can perform? Read through this article and reflect on the teams you have participated in over the years.

    Students often react poorly when teams enter into the storming stage, but if you take the time to prepare them, chances are they will rise to the challenge. Once you have reviewed this process find an opportunity to discuss it in class. Do you recognize the stages? When you complete the reading, answer the first two questions at the bottom of the page and write the answer to the third question for yourself.

  • imageDiscuss the Fact that the Greatest Team Asset Isn’t Brilliance

    What is it that makes a great team? Well, if you put all the smartest people together on one team, you should have a team that comes up with incredible ideas and products. WRONG! Dr Meredith Belbin is one of the original 'gurus' of Team Building. In his first book on Management Teams (Belbin, 1981) he reported some unexpectedly poor results with teams formed of people who had sharp, analytical minds and high mental ability - he called this the "Apollo Syndrome." Read about this syndrome. Ask your students what team attributes they think are valuable and why. What is their reaction to the Apollo Syndrome?

  • Suggest Students Take Time To Learn About Themselves

    The more you know about yourself, the better you can figure out ways to work with others. Have your students take some time to reflect on their own personality, learning styles and work styles. Here is a clever PowerPoint Presentation to have your students go through to understand more about the Myer Briggs and Keirsey Temperment Sorter. Although these instruments have been around for a long time, they are still used and referred to in the business environment. Make sure your students have a "heads up" on this tool.

    If you want students to take the on-line version of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, here is a link. They can buy a more comprehensive report, but assure them that all you want is the one they can do for free. Take a few minutes and see what you think of this self-assessment. How would it be valuable to your students? Would you want to form a team with the same temperament? What would be the advantages to having a team with diverse temperaments?

  • Give Them Practice with Team Dynamics

    It takes all different kinds of personalities and skills to make up successful teams.  Generally, instructors notice that a couple of people control each group when they engage their classes in collaborative learning.  Here is some insight into team types.

    It is helpful to have your groups understand that by assigning roles each time they meet, there will be greater participation. One of the ways to assure participation is to have everyone take on a role. When all team members feel a responsibility and are active in the process, they are more likely to make contributions. These roles and responsibilities can shift from meeting to meeting. But they will help give structure to teams. Read more about runners and recorders, coaches, leaders, timekeepers and more. Give students the information so they can begin developing better teams, work groups and collaborative ventures. Check out the roles, and try using this at your next team meeting.

  • Expose Them to Conflict Resolution Strategies

    How to get along in a group is a problem that perpetually haunts a team. The inability to resolve conflict can cause the best of teams to fail. There will surely be conflict on a team- it’s the storming stage, but how does a team move beyond? Finding win/win solutions to conflict is one of the most difficult and valuable skills an employee/student can have. We know that conflicts are inevitable and developing strategies to deal with them are worth their weight in gold! The Conflict Resolution Network offers a variety of ideas on resolving conflict. When you go to the site, check out the "CR Kit." See if you can get your students to begin using this kit to find solutions!

  • Even at the Top Teams are Important

    Here is some interesting research from MIT Sloan Management Review. In this article, “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” they review some findings about top management teams.  See how attitude seems to influence these prestigious groups.

    The former president of General Electric, Jack Welch, had this to say about teams: You have to build the best team, that's the first thing we talked about. You got to give that team a learning environment and then the sky's the limit. As long as they know that they can stretch and reach and try things... It is that damn bureaucracy that likes to box it in and you have to fight it every day.

Asking students to work in teams can be difficult and unrewarding, unless you take the time to prepare them and yourself with the success strategies needed. If you make the effort it will doubtlessly be rewarding.

Clear pixel
Image Clear pixel Image