Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Training: Promoting Effective Teamwork in the College Classroom

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Training: Promoting Effective Teamwork in the College Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was the exploration relationships between student and faculty team training perceptions and student attitudes and behaviors. Faculty and students enrolled in interior design programs were selected to participate in the study and participants responded to a questionnaire administered. The findings suggest that team training is positively related to teamwork attitudes and team oriented behaviors. Findings also suggest that leadership training does not play a significant role. Helping students learn to be good followers and teammates may have a stronger influence on both attitudes and behaviors in the classroom. The findings related to instruction and team behaviors indicates that instructors should be very deliberate in their development of instructional objectives. When training is provided in a specific area, then a corresponding behavior increases in use.

Introduction

Can instructors help teams deal with issues in goal setting, decision making, problem solving, conflict management, power and leadership, and communication skills? Bento (1997) asks these questions in the development of a teamwork model. More importantly, perhaps, instructors should ask themselves why they do not teach teamwork skills in courses where collaborative projects are required. We do not expect students to appear in our classrooms already having mastered discipline specific knowledge. Teamwork can be just as, if not more, elusive.

Collaborative experiences are dictated by accreditation boards and recommended by professional advisory groups. However, if anecdotal accounts are to be believed, successful team experiences are more difficult to achieve than successful individual projects. Accounts of teams that have "fired" members or resolved differences via fistfights are certainly among the more colorful stories and most all university faculty members have his or her favorite story. Lawrence Halprin (1989, p. 128) proposes "that the techniques and processes that are required to lead or participate in a successful and rewarding collaboration be taught as part of our professional education and should become an integral part of our profession....throwing groups of people together and hoping that enthusiasm alone will succeed is not enough."

The purpose of this study was the exploration of several relationships concerning student and faculty team training perceptions. There are three objectives for this project: 1) compare student and faculty perceptions concerning the provision of classroom team training; 2) investigate the relationship between students' reported team training levels and students' reported team attitudes; and 3) investigate the relationship between students' reported team training levels to students' reported team behaviors.

Background

There is an extensive body of literature that addresses team work, collaboration, and cooperative learning in education and in professional practice. These studies address the general need for training, the impact of team training on student outcomes, time needed for effective training, and the role of process in training.

Existing literature indicates that training is a necessary component of teamwork. Bolton (1999) found that students indicated higher levels of satisfaction when team training was provided in class. Researchers investigating a variety of case study scenarios have concluded that team training activities are necessary (McCorkle et al., 1999; Berge, 1998; Lewis, 1997; Goodwin, 1999). Bangert (2001) and Cheng and Warren (2000) determined that careful training is necessary for peer assessments to be applied consistently and in an unbiased manner. These studies, among others, recommend preliminary training and continued coaching through all phases of team development and work progress.

Additional support for the need of team training is related to student outcomes. Significantly higher levels of perceived personal support and a more positive attitude was found for those with team training and experiences (Karsch, 2001). …

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