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Student readiness for working in teams

Donella Caspersz, J. Skene and M. Wu
The University of Western Australia
Cooperative learning or working in teams (also referred to as collaborative learning or group work) has a demonstrated potential in achieving positive results (Slavin: 1986) in development of both academic skills (Johnson et al: 1981) and non-academic skills such as promoting understanding and self esteem (Slavin et al: 1985). In addition, cooperative learning prepares students for working life, as team work is commonly deployed in management of organisations. Approximately 50 per cent of workplaces use teams in managing workforces.

However students themselves are often hesitant about participating in team projects. This is particularly at the beginning of team projects. This reluctance stems from the general complexity of working in teams. That is, working in teams embodies a complex web of attitudes, understandings and behaviours (Jacques:1992). It is hypothesised that lack of student readiness for team work delimits performance in the early weeks of a team project. Given that a student team project only runs for 13 weeks (one semester), this can be a significant handicap affecting overall team performance and subsequent individual student satisfaction with the team process.

In response, a DOLS research project is currently being implemented to evaluate student readiness to work in teams, as well as their perceptions of team work projects. Three surveys have been administered to students during 2001 collating student response to the following measures:

In addition, focus groups sessions with students and lecturers using team based projects have been conducted.

Data collected will be subjected to both quantitative (depending on sample size) and qualitative measures to assess student readiness to work in teams. The proposed Teaching and Learning Forum paper will present some of this research project findings focusing on the question of the antecedents of student readiness to work in teams.

Contact person: Dr Donella Caspersz, Lecturer, Department of Organisational and Labour Studies, The University of Western Australia

Presentation format: Dilemmas in teaching or teaching/learning research

Please cite as: Caspersz, D., Skene, J. and Wu, M. (2002). Student readiness for working in teams. In Focusing on the Student. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 5-6 February 2002. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2002/abstracts/caspersz-abs.html

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Created 1 Dec 2001. Last revision: 31 Jan 2002. HTML: Roger Atkinson [ rjatkinson@bigpond.com ]