How to combat social loafing

Post by Capsim
July 29, 2015

Studies have shown repeatedly that when individuals work in teams, social loafing can be an issue. As instructors, preparing students for the business world, it’s important we address this phenomenon early in order for students to become better team members and be successful in the business world.

So, what is social loafing, exactly? Social loafing occurs when one or more team members do not pull their weight when working in a group. Follow these suggestions to combat social loafing and create a more functional team atmosphere for your students:

1. Implement peer and team reviews early
When students know beforehand that they are going to be evaluated by their peers, they are more likely to hold themselves accountable and do their fair share. With peer and team evaluations, team members can gain valuable insight into what other students think about their performance. Not only do these learning tools give students a glimpse into their teamwork skills, but they also give professors comprehensive data so they can better understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses.

“Social loafing is an issue that must be addressed early on.”


2. Provide guidance on how to be a better team member
An online evaluation, such as TeamMATE, can give students insight into how they can correct the behaviors of social loafing. TeamMATE shows students areas that need improvement and provides automated actionable steps to correct them.

3. Promote self-reflection that leads to self-improvement
Self-reflection is an important aspect of team building. Through evaluations, students can see any disparities between how they rate their own team performance and how their peers rate their team performance. Best of all, this can be done in a completely anonymous manner.

4. Empower team members with open communication

Because of the anonymity team and peer evaluations offer, students feel free to communicate honestly so problems like social loafing can be minimized. For instance, students might think they deserved a score of 70 on a project, but their peers gave them a score of 40. Once students see the disparity, they can begin a conversation about why they are lacking in certain areas.

Social loafing is a common occurrence among teams, but there are ways to prevent these issues from happening. Tackling team performance issues early on with evaluations could be just the thing to create a more holistic learning experience for your students.

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