Team Work

Why and how teams

  • Talk/Write, a discussion of this method by Margaret Walters, refers to the scholarly literature supporting this method

Team members are smarter, because when you solicit responses from a partner you get a chance to check your understanding, clarify your thought, put things into your own terms, and make it easier to remember

  • When listening, nod when you understand and observe how your partner is confirmed; when speaking, note those supportive moments — and make a note of it
  • When listening and things are not clear, ask a simple question and give your partner a chance to explain things differently; when speaking, note how your second or third explanation is different — and make a note of it
  • When you put things into your own terms, you are translating someone else’s language into your own, integrating what you’ve read with what you know, and speaking to the person in front of you who is playing the role of listener, peer, and present and future professional: you are preparing here and now for professional life
  • Everyday language is more effective, because you are using it: once you make a note of what works here and now, later you can write it up, edit, and then choose more careful and readable expressions
  • In conversations, we render difficult things accessible, easier to understand and discuss, and this makes learning a whole lot easier for very good reason: On Vigotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development
  • Unless you are one of the few people who work best like poets, alone, the chances are good you are a social animal and appreciate the help of others: here’s a find example of one student helping another: Ask for and offer help


You likely know a lot about groups, but not about teams

Social or “soft” skills are likely as valuable as the “hard” ones

When organized well, teams are often vastly more creative

Team dynamics we can study, particularly as we play different roles

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 comments on each other’s work

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. You respond with understanding, care, and support. You indicate clearly that you have learned something (and may say so in a subsequent post).
  4. Your comments are insufficient in number and/or quality. Not helpful, not welcoming.