Team X, a “product-in-development” made possible through a 2018 Strategic Priority Grant, intends to realise pedagogical teamwork priorities for all students, and to meaningfully contribute to a “Connected Curriculum”. Team X provides a systematic, flexible, blended approach to teaching students how to work in teams; a teamwork experience to integrate into existing units and programs across Macquarie University. Team X relies on an extant framework grounded in interdisciplinary research, uses team-centric teaching activities supported by authentic resources, and a teamwork knowledge and skills assessment portfolio embracing Macquarie University quality assurance standards and processes.
Developing teamwork competencies
Team X aims to satisfy an organisational need for graduates to develop teamwork competencies beyond the traditional individually-oriented skills, vital to organisations in responding to complex global business environments. The problem is that despite learning outcomes across Macquarie University programs requiring students to show they can work effectively in teams, there remains significant scope for students to develop authentic teamwork competencies, which is uniquely different from group work competencies.
Research shows that students are placed into groups / teams for class projects and other assessments with limited instruction on how or what it means to work in teams. Current practice focuses on group-oriented assessments centred on the group product, rather than teamwork processes encompassing:
- reaching consensus on how decision making will occur;
- interpersonal communication;
- collaborative problem solving; and
- conflict resolution.
Consequently, Team X aims to develop our student’s transportable, specific teamwork competencies and facilitate a productive experience of real-life team dynamics. In doing so Team X addresses the university’s need to develop, with evidence, ‘teamwork-capable’, employable graduates desired by contemporary organisations.
Research shows that students are often confused by the difference between group work and teamwork, and experience difficulties with the general mechanics of teamwork processes and the challenges that team work presents. Thus, students are frustrated by the experience, they resent and do not like group work or teamwork, and so reluctantly engage with it because of their unproductive experiences. This can also negatively influence their overall grades and experiences of studying at Macquarie University. Team X provides resources to support constructive student learning and development of teamwork competencies, critical for their employability.
Team X delivers a suite of teaching activities, resources, and assessments focused explicitly on teamwork, packaged into a comprehensive, shared online space, which will be available to all MQ academic teaching staff regardless of discipline. This teamwork experience mobilises our teaching community to embed all or some facets of teamwork into their curricula using a comprehensive and integrated approach. Thus, Team X alleviates the need for individual academic teaching staff to start from ground zero when choosing to or tasked with incorporating teamwork into their units and programs.
How did we achieve current progress on Team X development?
- we recruited Higher Degree Research students from Human Sciences and undergraduate Media students from the Faculty of Arts to develop authentic activities and resources;
- we engaged a highly competent graphic and web designer to create an interactive and visually appealing iLearn site;
- we incorporated insights and inputs from teaching staff in a variety of discipline areas, human resource consultants and prospective employers;
- we sourced quality research-based and real-life practice materials;
- we utilised a skilled project coordinator to keep the project on schedule and within budget; and
- consulted extensively with a Macquarie University quality assurance expert.
What are the next steps?
We are currently putting the finishing touches to Team X so we can provide our teaching community with a “sneak-peek” in a workshop later this year. We intend to pilot Team X materials across 3 to 4 units in early 2019. We also invite all interested members from our community to pilot parts of or all of the teamwork experience.
If you would like to be included in the pilot or contribute resources, please get in contact with Vicki Baard and watch this space for further details.
By Vicki Baard & June Buchanan (Faculty of Business and Economics).
Photo credit: Joanne Stephan