The tremendous power of team learning is derived from a single factor: the high level of cohesiveness that can be developed within student learning groups. The effectiveness of team learning as an instructional strategy is based on the fact that it nurtures the development of high levels of group cohesiveness which in turn results in a wide variety of other positive outcomes. Each member of our group had some similarities but also differences in our strengths. Michael's strong point was APA formatting, foster team work, remain open-minded and diffuse conflicts, he was a leader. Monica's was to offer suggestions and guidance to other team members, help review and edit final paper for errors, help keep everyone motivated and ensure work was completed in a timely fashion. My strong point was conducting research, suggesting new ideas, edit content of paper, help finalize decisions and seek clarification. John's strong points were to build consensus, share knowledge, and encourage participation. As a team there were no weaknesses because if one member was weak in one area it was another member's strong point. It is a transformation process to evolve a small group into a powerful, cohesive learning team. Students instead of being passive recipients of information and content now will need to be responsible for the initial acquisition of the content, and for working collaboratively with other students to learn how to use the content. These types of changes does not just happen, they happen when the four principles of team learning are utilized, then you will have a cohesive learning team. Groups must be properly formed and managed. Groups need to be formed in a way that enables them to do the work that they will be asked to do. This means minimizing barriers to group cohesiveness and in turn giving them the resources they need. When member assets, liabilities, and characteristics are evenly distributed, learning teams will work more effectively. Distributing member resources.
In order to function as effectively as possible, each group should have access to whatever assets exist within the whole class and not carry more than a "fair share" of the liabilities. Member assets might include such things as: full-time work experience, previous relevant course work, access to perspectives from other cultures, etc. Member liabilities may be in the form of negative attitudes towards the course, limited fluency in English, no previous relevant course work, etc. When relevant member assets, liabilities, and characteristics are evenly distributed, learning teams will work more effectively. Groups should be permanent.
It takes time for groups to evolve into effective functioning teams. Each time groups are re-formed, the team development process must begin all over. In newly formed groups, members typically begin the testing process by engaging in "small-talk" and by carefully avoiding disagreements. Newly formed groups tend to rely heavily on their most competent member. As groups develop into teams, communication becomes more open and, more conducive to learning. In part, this occurs because trust and understanding build to the point that members are willing and able to engage in intense give-and-take interactions without having to worry about being offensive or misunderstood. In addition team members are willing to risk challenging each other because they see their own success as being integrally tied to the success of their team. Early on to avoid conflicts we established the majority rule concept. If an idea was proposed or numerous ideas proposed the entire team voted and the majority ruled. If we needed clarification on a certain area because different members of the group were interpreting the assignment in different ways, we sought guidance from the instructor and then proceeded with task at hand. After a decision was reached in this fashion the team moved on in a positive and supportive way with other team members....
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