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Teams, Learning

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Teaming is one way to increase the level of active and cooperative/collaborative learning in the classroom. Forming short term groups or long term teams helps students learn to work together and rely on each other as a tool for learning. In turn, this can reduce the amount of time and energy an instructor must spend addressing individual questions.

Working in teams emulates the real world, providing a strong motivator for using them in the classroom. One of the major goals associated with teaming is to help students to learn to incorporate diverse viewpoints and perspectives into their solution process. Another goal is to help students to let go of the desire to be involved in every step in the solution process. One problem with the traditional educational process is that typically students develop a mindset where they work alone throughout a project and see a project through from the start to finish without assistance. The problem is that they become accustomed to being involved with every step of the process and are reluctant to trust other students to take responsibility for completing anything. This approach is counter to the real-world practice where employees can easily be part of global team working asynchronously on a project. Teaming in the classroom offers students the opportunity to begin to adapt to this new paradigm before they are placed in an environment where failure may have dire consequences.

In addition to the real world parallels of teaming, it is also a foundational element of many instructional techniques, such as problem based learning and collaborative/cooperative learning. Utilizing simple teams for activities such as group projects or small group discussions can be an excellent way to introduce students to the dynamics of teaming before using a more advanced instructional technique for which teaming is only a segment of the larger process.

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