Vicki Suter

Discovering the power of good questions

Collaborative learning in teams

Most students don’t know how to work in teams effectively, and when an instructor assigns team projects there is usually a collective groan from the class based on unsuccessful and frustrating experiences.  Teamwork and leadership are key skills, which are valued by employers, as documented in It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning & Student Success, 2013 Survey of Employers as well as Common Employability Skills – National Network of Business & Industry Associations (July 2014). In addition, the collaborative work that is an essential part of team projects assists in the development of critical thinking skills and deeper level thinking. It is up to the instructor to create a structure that will help students acquire these skills.  There is a considerable body of research supporting the value of collaboration in learning.

I’ve developed some resources to help faculty create these structures.

Project Team Problem Scenarios

This document is designed for a faculty development workshop focused on how to develop these structures. Groups of participants are assigned one scenario for discussion of the a set of questions, including an analysis of the problem, possible instructor interventions, prevention through assignment and course design, and collaborative tools and practices that might help teams be successful. During the workshop,after a team shares its response to the scenario and a discussion, the workshop facilitator can provide additional recommendations and resources addressing each scenario. These are described for each scenario separately, so there is repetition. At the end, the document provides a summary of best practices, resources and tools described in each scenario.

Best Practices for Designing Team Projects

This document includes resources such as an example of a team project rubric, a sample team contract, an example of structured team reflection with self- and peer-evaluation, as well as links to videos and other resources.







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