Certain assignments in this class will be team assignments: they must be completed as a team, and every team member receives the same grade for a major part of the assignment.
Pedagogical research consistently shows that team work--also known as cooperative or collaborative learning--provides several educational benefits (see References and Links below). It encourages students to take more responsibility for their own education and to be more active in pursuing it. It can also enable students to accomplish more together than they can individually.
Early in the term, the instructor will distribute a Team Sign-Up Sheet and ask you to form teams, generally of about four students each. You may team up with friends or acquaintances in class; if you do not express a preference, the instructor will assign you to a team. You may change teams during the term only under exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the instructor.
Each team such designate a team leader. The leader is the principal contact between the team and the instructor, as well as the coordinator for team activities. The leader should also moderate team meetings and ensure that the Team Assignment Form is completed.
For each team assignment, teams must complete a Team Assignment Plan. This form should be used as a planning tool to help teams decide how to distribute the work in a project. The instructor will also use it as an evaluation tool, to judge how well the team has organized its work and how well each team member has completed his or her task.
You will be given a very limited amount of time in class to discuss who will do which part of the assignment. It does not matter how you divide up the labor, as long as each team member has an assignment and the assignment is completed on time. You may find it desirable to get in touch outside of class.
Specific instructions will be provided for each class and each assignment. Check with the instructor and the course syllabus for details.
Students will generally receive a grade for the team assignment made up of two parts. The team grade is based on the overall quality of the team project. The instructor makes this evaluation, sometimes with the assistance of a critique provided by another team or teams.
Individual grades will be based on each team member's contribution to the team assignment--both the quality of team work for which the student is responsible and other factors such as attendance at team meetings, completing tasks on time, and cooperation with other team members. To assist in awarding individual grades, students will be required to evaluate themselves and other team members, using the Team Self-Evaluation Form. Because students work with their team members directly, they have a better knowledge of their peers' contributions than does the instructor. Such evaluations will be confidential.
Every member of the team is expected to contribute to team assignments. A team member who fails to contribute is essentially claiming credit for the work of others. This is academic dishonesty and will be treated accordingly. Team members who fail to turn in their portion of a team assignment will fail the assignment. Team members who turn in their contributions late will be penalized one letter grade. However, in such cases, to the extent possible, the rest of the team will not be penalized.
Consult the syllabus for your specific course for further information on how the team assignment will be evaluated.
Many students find team assignments motivating and rewarding. However, they can also be frustrating and anxiety-producing, because by definition a portion of your grade depends on someone else. Students should recognize their responsibility to their team and make every effort to help their team succeed. If it appears that a team member is producing little or no work, other team members should first speak to that student. If this is not effective, teams should bring problems to the attention of the instructor, who will attempt to mediate. In extreme cases (thankfully rare), the instructor may redefine team assignments or remove students from teams.
Below is a sampling of the vast literature on collaborative learning.