Student project team effectiveness, satisfaction and learning: An investigative study

Year: 2018

Author: Ng, Titus, Ho, Woon-Yee

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There has been a widespread increase of the use of teams throughout the business curriculum (Deeter-Schmelz & Ramsey, 1998; Hernandez, 2002), mainly because employers actively seek to hire workers who can work with others, and manage a team in the workplace (Ashraf, 2004; Chen, Donahue, & Klimoski, 2004). However, many studies found that students are simply grouped into teams without effective preparation for teamwork (Bacon, Stewart, & Silver, 1999; Bolton, 1999; Ettington & Camp, 2002), experiencing issues such as unclear goals, conflicts, mismanagement, and inequity in participation (Cox & Bobrowski, 2000; McCorkle et al., 1999; McKendall, 2000)
Most students do not find it effective nor enjoyable, and most do not acquire the team working skills these projects intended them to learn (Chiriac & Granstrm, 2012; Johnson & Johnson, 1990). Team assignments are perceived as “a tool used by academic staff primarily to reduce their workload” (James, McInnis, & Devlin, 2002, p. 49)
This research examines factors associated with effective teamwork in assessment projects by focusing on international students at Monash College who are enrolled in study units in Introductory Economics, Managerial Communications and Engineering Design.
To investigate student experiences on various dimensions of teamwork connected to task characteristics, team level factors, teaching practice and support structure, team processes, teamwork skills and attitudinal outcomes, we survey students using the questionnaire developed in Tucker et al. (2014). Student responses, both quantitative and qualitative were used to inform the following stage of research, which involves the introduction of teamwork intervention strategies with aims to promote and enhance skills in teamwork practices. Upon implementation of intervention strategies, changes in student experiences in regards to effectiveness are monitored and measured using the same questionnaire to determine differences in team effectiveness, satisfaction and learning outcomes.
Findings tend to suggest that the various dimensions in teamwork are weighted proportionately differently by students depending on the subject unit under study.