The Best Choice...according to the experts
Springer, Stanne, & Donovan, 1997 – "The studies showed that small-groups had significant and positive effects on student achievement, persistence, and attitudes."
NSF Foundatin Coalation, 2001 –"Developing team skills while still in college increases students' potential for improved academic performance and simultaneously provides important skills to prepare them for the workplace."
- Teamwork is an effective substitute for individual projects in many situations, such as, in solving complex problems.
- Teamwork may be necessary for the type of learning you expect to occur.
What is a team?
"A group in which members work together intensively to achieve a common group goal." (Lewis-McClear, 1998)
"A team is a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable."(NSF Foundation Coalition, 2001).
Assign teamwork or individual work?
- Is it important that students learn to work in teams in this course, this discipline, this program of study?
- Will the types of projects that students do in teams help achieve the objectives?
- In what situations will teamwork be more effective in terms of teaching and learning?
- In what situations will individual work be more effective in terms of teaching and learning?
Some other factors which will help you decide whether to choose teamwork or individual work:
- Resources: How many resources (computers, equipments, teaching assistants) do you have? Can they support individual work? Or do you have to select teamwork? For example, in a computer lab, if you have limited amount of computers, you may have to choose teamwork.
- Time: How many hours do you have for the class? If it is a one-credit course, do you really have time for teamwork? Your have an intensive course which runs from 8:30am-5pm for one week, you may want to include more teamwork activities in class.
- Location of the students: If your students are geographically separated, it may be difficult to have them do teamwork. You can explore the possibility of virtual teamwork, but consider whether the students have access to the Internet?
- Workload: How big is your class? If you have a class which has 800 students, and you have only two to three teaching assistants, do you really want 800 students to submit individual work?
- Skills: Do you have adequate skills to manage, guide, monitor and assess the teamwork?
Penn State (2001-2006) Building blocks for teams
Springer, L., Stanne, M. E., & Donovan, S. S. (1997). Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology: A meta-analysis (Research Monograph No. 11). Madison: University of Wisconsin, National Institute for Science Education.
NSF Foundation Coalition (2001). Student teams Retrieved
May 14, 2003 from Foundation Coalition's web site: http://www.foundationcoalition.org/home/keycomponents/student_teams.html