Active/Collaborative Learning Student Teams Integrating Technology Effectively Women and Minorities Assessment and Evaluation EC2000 Emerging Technology Foundation Coalition Curricula Concept Inventories
Getting Student Engineering Teams Off to a Good Start

Starting Teams
Get acquainted Motivate groups to build teams Establish a set of group goals
Construct a code of cooperation Organize Potential problem members

Establishing Group Goals
Every team works toward common goals; without common goals there is no team. Existence of common team goals does not imply that individual students have no individual goals. For example, a team may agree that one of its goals will be to build the most accurate Ping-Pong ball launcher for the assigned project. However, two team members may be individually aiming for As in the course, a third member may be focusing on a B, while the fourth may be content with a C. Without open, honest, and explicit conversations about goals, team members may have difficulty understanding the actions of other members. Without common goals the team does not generate energy to work together.

Understanding that different students have different goals can be eye opening. A member concentrating on getting an A may realize that other members have set their sights on lower grades while focusing on other campus activities, and vice versa. Such situations are likely to arise in teams in which instructors, in assigning teams, have emphasized heterogeneity in prior academic performance and skills. Further, members aiming for an A may feel more comfortable when they see other members doing less if they have realized others will be satisfied with a lower grade. However, the instructor should establish grading policies that may assign different grades to different members of the team.

Unrecognized differences in individual goals are one source of potential conflicts as the course progresses. Failure to establish common goals reduces commitment of the individual members to the team effort. Therefore, providing opportunity and structure to assist each team in constructing group goals to which all can be committed is important.

Team exercise: Ask each team to develop a set of goals for its activities during the course. A team may want to use the following process for developing a set of group goals.

On a sheet of paper, create a column for each team member and a column for the team. Ask each member, in turn, to state one of her/his goals for the course and record the goal in the appropriate column. Repeat a few (for example, five) times. Ask the team to select one goal from each column and synthesize the individual goals into a goal to be placed in the team column. Repeat to construct a small number of goals in the team column. Revise the goals in the team column to create a set of goals for the team. Each team should then submit its goals to the instructor.

After a few weeks have each team revisit its goals to determine if changes are necessary.

For further information: See material on group goals.[9]


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