Team members are smarter, because soliciting responses can help you check your understanding, clarify your thoughts, put things into your own terms, and help you rememeber
Team members talk to each other constantly, because two heads are better than one, the team is smarter than its members, and because sitting around waiting for the professor is a waste of time: it leaves you untested, dependent, and vulnerable — but team work done right helps you step out of your skin, confirm that you are on the right track, build relationships and support, and help you develop your work and the confidence to keep going forward
Experts are helpful, but unsufficient, because they are typically far away in experience when you want to get close, abstract when you might need an example, detailed when you need perspective, and talking in their own language — to learn, we often need relevant knowledge in bite-sized pieces and the chance to check, clarify, challenge, and confirm what is new against what we know and build on what we know
You likely know a lot about groups, but not about teams
- The Wisdom of Teams, Katzenbach
Social or “soft” skills are likely as valuable as the “hard” ones
- The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market, David. J. Deming
When organized well, teams are often vastly more creative
- How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity, Ed Catmull
Sometimes it is terrible trying to do it alone, we lose perspective: best is to:
Write in pairs and where you first talk, then write, because then your writing is social, we each support and draw out the other, and for many this is far different and easier than writing about ideas and on our own
When setting up a larger team, look for and find some great advice
Learn how to exploit differences in personality and power
- The 4-Player Model, Art Kleiner
For more, see my
How do I evaluate your team work?
Here is the evaluation rubric I often use for evaluating blogging teams and where “1” is the highest grade
- Precocious knowledge transfer is reflected in frequent and maps, reviews, and well-edited and sophisticated used of categories and tags. Your posts and comments are integrated and cite and extend the reach of each other’s arguments. It is clear that you have been communicating actively and learning from each other.
- Overall coherence is evident in mind maps, “week-in-review”, and consistent use of categories and tags across the group. Posts and comments are supportive of each other but without significant extension. Group interaction is adequate.
- Your minimum level group work is reflect in pro forma mind maps and “week-in-review” as well as categories and tags that are unrefined, redundant, and so not edited. Your posts and comments are divergent, only occasionally refer to each other’s issues, and do not build on them. Evidence of group interaction is limited.
- Your group work is limited to 2-3 people, the others seem not to have showed up or engaged each other. Categories and tags are inaccurate, redundant, or irrelevant. Posts and comments have nothing to do with each other. No evidence of significant group interaction, result appears incoherent.
Criteria for evaluating your comment’s on each other’s work
- Your comments engage the problem and writer and go beyond to suggest different materials and interpretations in a constructive way. Your own posts reflect this conversation.
- You respond as a peer, suggest additional, relevant links, add to the discussion, throw in at least one comment or question that gives pause, and you invite a thoughtful response.
- You respond with understanding, care, and support. You indicate clearly that you have learned something (and may say so in a subsequent post).
- Your comments are insufficient in number and/or quality. Not helpful, not welcoming.