Teaching Students to Work in Classroom Teams: A Preliminary Investigation of Instructors' Motivations, Attitudes and Actions

By Sashittal, Hemant C.; Jassawalla, Avan R. et al. | Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Teaching Students to Work in Classroom Teams: A Preliminary Investigation of Instructors' Motivations, Attitudes and Actions


Sashittal, Hemant C., Jassawalla, Avan R., Markulis, Peter, Academy of Educational Leadership Journal


ABSTRACT

Teaching teamwork skills is strongly advocated in the management education literature. What remains relatively under-investigated is what instructors do in terms of teaching teamwork after they assign team projects to their students, and why they do what they do. This paper reports findings of a two-stage study, and aims to discuss preliminary findings about instructors' motivations, attitudes and actions relevant to the teaching of teamwork skills in management classes. Findings suggest that instructors' motivations, attitudes, and actions related to teaching teamwork skills in classrooms are related in important ways, and hold several implications for new thinking and research.

INTRODUCTION

It is not uncommon for instructors of undergraduate management and MBA courses to assign complex class-related projects to student teams, and hold them collectively responsible for producing multiple learning-related outcomes. Scholars agree that student teams can represent active learning environments (Chowdhury, Endres & Lanis, 2002; Deeter-Schmelz, Kennedy & Ramsey, 2002; Holtham, Melville & Sodhi, 2006; Michaelson, Knight & Fink, 2002), and that teamwork can help students learn critical skills valued by potential employers (e.g., O 'Conner & Yballe, 2007). A review of literature highlights the following: (a) even though team projects are common in management classes, too many students do not receive necessary coaching and instruction for teamwork (O 'Conner & Yballe, 2007; Vik, 2001), and (b) poorly prepared and inadequately instructed students often disengage and view teamwork with cynicism (Buckenmyer, 2000; Connerley & Mael, 2001; Holmer, 2001). Scholars strongly argue in favor of teaching and instruction to help students cope with the demands of teamwork (see Bolton, 1999; Chen, Donahue & Klimoski, 2004; Deeter-Schmelz, Kennedy & Ramsey, 2002; Ettington & Camp, 2002; Holmer, 2001; McKendall, 2000; Page & Donelan, 2003; Vik, 2001).

Despite the advocacy, the literature is mostly silent when it comes to describing business school instructors' motivations and attitudes about, and actions directed toward teaching teamwork skills to students - particularly when they assign students to teams and require them to collectively complete comprehensive class-related projects. Our purpose here is to discuss preliminary evidence of instructors' motivations, attitudes, and actions, and identify areas for future research that might help explain why the literature's advocacy has not sufficiently translated into practice (i.e., why fewer instructors teach teamwork skills in their classrooms than those that assign students to teams). We aim to stimulate new thinking, and spur new research that can produce findings that speak to the practical, day-to-day realities of instructors - versus the intent to produce widely generalizable findings. Consistent with this intent, our findings emerge from: (a) a small-scale exploratory study (n=19) we conducted to produce a guiding hypothesis and develop scales, and (b) a survey that used a small (n=56), purposeful sample of instructors who share an interest in innovative teaching methods and assign students to classroom teams. We find evidence to suggest that instructor motivations and attitudes are misaligned, and that key motivators for assigning teamwork in classrooms ought to be acknowledged and legitimized before the literature's advocacy produces meaningful results in the classroom.

METHOD

Stage 1. Qualitative-data, hypotheses and scales

We began by depth-interviewing nineteen instructors who taught Organizational Behavior courses in twelve business schools located in the Northeastern US, of whom sixteen taught only undergraduate courses and three taught only graduate courses. Participants: (a) allocated 25% or more of the students' grades based on team-based assignments. Aligned with our interest in teamwork-instruction-related motivations, attitudes and actions, the depth interviews were guided by the following questions (asked in the following order):

* What is the purpose of assigning team projects in your classes? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Teaching Students to Work in Classroom Teams: A Preliminary Investigation of Instructors' Motivations, Attitudes and Actions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.