General adoptability of self-contained simulated teamwork activity
The need for training teamwork is well documented. However, the methods for doing so can be restrictive from a number of perspectives. First, finding effective means for developing teamwork can be difficult and may require a lot of experience. Also, some methods are costly in terms of time commitment or financially.
We have developed an 3-hour experiential activity capable of improving a number of key teamwork skills from a constructivist point of view.
Because it is only requires a three hour commitment, it has a maximum one-time cost of ~$500, and it is 'fun', a professor can introduce it to their students to better reinforce effective teamwork skills.
The overarching goal is explore the adoptability of our teamwork development exercise. In addition, we want to more thoroughly explore which teamwork skills the activity is more effective at targeting.
The activity is being introduced to a number of campuses and a variety of disciplines to highlight the activities shortcomings. Currently, we are collecting baseline data to observe the impact of our activity.
We are taking a constructivist approach to developing teamwork skills. In short, the students engage in a simulated teamwork exercise with little to no direction aside from the exercise goals. By doing so, their personal drawbacks and strengths associated with teamwork can be highlighted. Afterwards, through facilitated reflection and feedback mechanisms, the learning objectives of the exercise (i.e., recognizing the value of intellectual diversity) are aligned with elements in built into the exercise (i.e., each student's role in the activity has unique capabilities). The important formal elements of the effective teamwork model are shared and discussed. Finally, the students engage in the activity a second time, but with an increased level of difficulty and a better understanding of how to effectively work as a team. The students perform one more formal reflection through a memo where they reflect on new strategies and how they changed the outcomes.
Preliminary studies show the activity is effective at increasing teamwork skills. From analysis of student reflections, we have identified little to no resistance from participation due to its 'fun factor'. We anticipate this can be adopted by any discipline and any institution.
The next step is to characterize the current approach from our beta-testers and compare the impact to our new activity. By doing so, we can highlight the impact and the adoptability of this exercise.
The broader impacts are to equip students with a solid background in teamwork at the beginning of their academic career versus the end. By doing so, we anticipate the students will be highly effective team members upon entering the workforce. We hope to share our results and approaches through workshops and offering all activity materials online for easy and quick adoption by STEM professors around the globe.
Coordinating between so many sites for beta-testing. With seven beta-testing sites, it has been difficult to keep everyone informed and in line with the needs of the research.
Hadley KR, ﾓTeaching Teamwork Skills through Alignment of Features within a Commerical Board Game.ﾔ Int. J. Eng. Educ.; v.30: I 6(A) (2014).