The capacity to work in teams is a vital skill that undergraduate and graduate students need to learn in order to succeed in their professional careers and personal lives.
While teamwork is often part of the curriculum in elementary and secondary schools, undergraduate and graduate education is often directed at individual effort and testing that emphasizes solitary performance.
Critiques and revisions: I ask students to post their preliminary reports on the class’s shared website two weeks before the end of the semester.
Then students sign up to read and critique one of the reports, which they send to me and the report authors.
With a four-person team, distinct roles can be assigned to each person, so it becomes easier to grade students individually.
Just getting students to talk together, resolve differences, agree to schedules, etc. Milestones: Especially in longer projects, there should be deliverables every week, e.g.in my graduate information visualization course, students produce a full conference paper, 3-5 minute You Tube video, working demo, and slide deck & presentation.Teamwork strategies: For short-term teams (a few weeks to a semester), simple strategies are probably best.I prefer student designed projects with an outside mentor, where the goal is to produce an inspirational pilot project that benefits someone outside the classroom and survives beyond the semester.I’ve had student teams work on software to schedule the campus bus routes or support a local organization that brings hundreds of foreign students for summer visits in people’s homes.I give a single grade to the team, but do require that their report includes a credits section in which the role of each person is described.Project design (faculty-driven): Another approach is for the teacher to design the team projects, which might be the same ones for every team.In fact, they have many fears that increase their resistance.Some believe that teamwork takes extra effort for faculty or that teams naturally lead to one person doing most of the work.Other teams helped a marketing company to assess consumer behavior in a nearby shopping mall or an internet provider to develop a network security monitor.Two teams proposed novel visualizations for the monthly jobs report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which they presented to the Commissioner and her staff.