How do you prepare students to be effective team members?
Providing students the tools needed to be effective team members is a must. But how do you integrate the development of teamwork skills into your curriculum? As students move from college to the workplace, they will need those skills immediately.
Fortunately, there are online peer and team evaluations that can deliver data for grading and automated feedback for student development. Your students can have the opportunity to evaluate their team members and reflect on how their team members evaluate them.
Perception versus reality
Many times students have glowing reviews about their performance on the team while their team members have a different opinion. One way for students to get an unbiased view of their contribution to the team is through peer evaluations.
Telling someone they aren’t contributing their fair share to the team can be a tough thing to do face-to-face. However, since peer evaluations are anonymous with team members seeing only their aggregate score, team members can be honest about each team member’s performance.
This way, students get a chance to see what their team members think about their contribution. Studies have shown there are a lot of benefits to this strategy. Students tend to perform better when they know they are going to be reviewed by their peers during the project. In short, peer evaluations are excellent at preventing social loafing and promoting better teamwork on team projects.
After students see these anonymous reviews, they can self-reflect on their performance and progress. By reading these honest responses from other students, they can then determine several areas that are crucial to team building, such as:
- Doing their fair share of the group’s work.
- Providing constructive feedback to team members’ ideas and work.
- Responding to other team members in a timely, encouraging and friendly manner.
- Reaching decisions with other team members through compromise.
- Becoming an active listener and allowing everyone on the team to contribute.
Likewise, students can also see areas where they might be hindering optimal group performance, such as interfering with consensus among the group, being passive or indirect about group decisions, or wasting valuable time during team projects.
Team and peer evaluations have been around for a long time. However, online evaluation tools make it easier to collect, analyze and share. This allows students to see where their strengths and weaknesses are according to others, as well as the chance to improve their team skills.
Now that students have the raw feedback from their performance, they can expand upon the areas where they excelled as a team member. However, students can also use the data to see where they can actively change pain points.
For instance, students can see at what point in the project timeline they became disengaged or burned out, or it can allow them to see areas where they need to improve communication. Because these suggestions are anonymous, there is less focus on team negativity and more attention on ways students can use their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
In modern office settings, much of the group work that is evaluated by managers will be judged as a whole. This is where social loafing can become detrimental to team cohesion. It is important to correct these behaviors early to prepare students for the workplace. Through team and peer evaluations, group efforts will improve and individual performances can be recognized at the same time.