Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Performance and Perceptions of Student Teams Created and Stratified Based on Academic Abilities

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Performance and Perceptions of Student Teams Created and Stratified Based on Academic Abilities

Article excerpt

Objective. To compare student performance, elements of peer evaluation and satisfaction of teams created according to students' course entrance grade point average (GPA).

Methods. Two course sections were divided into teams of four to five students utilizing Comprehensive Assessment of Team Member Effectiveness (CATME) software.

Results. Of 336 students enrolled, 324 consented to participation. Weekly team quiz averages were 99.1% (higher GPA), 97.2% (lower GPA), 97.7% (mixed GPA). Weekly individual quiz averages were 87.2% (higher GPA), 83.3% (lower GPA), 85.2% (mixed GPA). Students with same GPA performed similarly individually independent of team assignment. Satisfaction ranged from 4.52 (higher GPA), 4.73 (lower GPA), 4.53 (mixed GPA).

Conclusion. Academically stronger students in mixed GPA teams appeared to be at a slight disadvantage compared to similar students in higher GPA teams. There was no difference in team performance for academically weaker students in lower GPA versus mixed GPA teams. Team satisfaction was higher in lower GPA teams.

Keywords: teamwork, team allocation, performance, satisfaction, large classroom


Teamwork is a crucial component of learning because it promotes student active engagement, which leads to long-term retention of the content. (1) Teamwork can be used in a variety of educational methods including team-based learning, problem-based learning, flipped classroom, blended learning and more. (2,3) The importance of effective teamwork is gaining prominence in the research arena. Some of the elements of teamwork that have been explored include collective intelligence, (4) gender roles, (4) team construction (ie, ability grouping, (5,6) personality and learning style inventories (7)), and individual contributions. (8)

Research in elementary education suggests that students should be placed in heterogeneous groups for the majority of instruction, but should be regrouped according to their abilities for skill development activities such as reading and mathematics. Instructors need to re-evaluate students' achievement level frequently and change groups accordingly. (5) Cheng and colleagues evaluated the performance of close to 2,000 students who participated in a yearlong project-based learning program in secondary schools. (6) They found that high achievers performed better on their own than with a group, when group processes were of low quality. (6) However, both high and low achievers performed better in a group, when group processes were of high quality. (6) Group processes of high quality include positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation and social skills. (6)

Pharmacy educators advocate putting students into heterogeneous teams to ensure a diverse mix of backgrounds, experiences, and learning styles that will prepare students for pharmacy practice. (9) Often, teams are created randomly to save time. Many instructors invite students to participate in the exercises/questionnaires where they can explore their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses, learning styles and preferences. (7,10,11) The process of self-discovery can be time-consuming but valuable for students. Even though the process of assigning students to specific teams is often laborious, course coordinators are often interested in a more precise team formation. Students can be assigned to teams based on their scholastic performance, work experience, social background, leadership preference, learning style and more. Some learning style inventories include the Strengths Finder; the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; Keirsey Temperament Sorter; Pharmacists' Inventory of Learning Styles; Kolb Learning Style Inventory; Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic Questionnaire VARK. (7,10,11)

Another challenge with team learning is assessing both team and individual member contributions. To remedy this, faculty rely on peer evaluations. …

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