Title

Collaborative Teamwork: For Better or For Worse

Proposal Focus

Education

Abstract

This poster presentation describes the group dynamics within a collaborative learning setting. In the Parenting class, which is a requirement within the Human Development and Family Science major, students are encouraged to choose their own groups which will then function as family units for the duration of the semester. The learning principle behind these team exercises is twofold: on the one hand the groups have to cover curricular material and access information related to best parenting practices. On the other hand, by being part of a group themselves, they have to reflect on the challenges that may occur within family units, and this entails meta-cognition. The groups have to collaborate to complete tasks similar to the way families deal with real-life challenges. One of the first tasks concerns parenting techniques in the case of disruptive behavior of children. The groups have to access best parenting practices and resources by accessing sites that list and describe evidence based parenting programs. They have to find best outcomes as a family, and outline the appropriate parenting techniques. It becomes apparent to group members that a family unit has a permanence that has to be accepted, respected, and used a as tool. Not exiting from a group necessitates negotiating skills, display of mutual acceptance and collaboration. The instructor of the class has been trained in the basics of group dynamics, and serves as a resource to guide the students; and can comment on the observed process. Theoretically groups are predicted to go through phases of forming, norming, storming, performing and ultimately adjourning, first described by Tuckman (1965). This sequence is illustrated with descriptions of real-life events occurring in the classroom. When students choose their own groups, the underlying learning principle is to make them responsible for their choices and deal with the unanticipated surprises and challenges. This strategy is intentional. Inevitably, during the semester, cracks appear in these happy units, and students complain that they cannot work in this group, or with that person. When there is dissent in the group, it also provides the perfect learning opportunity. Dynamics of dissent can occur in any group, including family groups. Students are reminded that family groups have permanence and in a similar fashion they cannot change their groups once they have chosen them. Hence the focus shifts to finding techniques and ways of restoring the group homeostasis and thereby implied functioning. In doing so, students are encouraged to follow several steps: one is to understand their group’s behavior according to a systems approach and becoming acquainted with systems theory. Subsequently they need to find ways to resolve the conflict in a respectful manner and become productive. Students realize the parallel between their functioning as a group and many parenting situations. As part of the conflict resolution they need to implement structure in combination with the welcoming qualities of nurture. The student working groups find that just like families, they ultimately have to display constructive coping strategies to support group cohesion and functionality.

Keywords

collaborative teamwork, group dynamics, dynamics of dissent, learning outcomes

Location

Tiger I

Start Date

9-3-2018 11:30 AM

End Date

9-3-2018 12:30 PM

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Mar 9th, 11:30 AM Mar 9th, 12:30 PM

Collaborative Teamwork: For Better or For Worse

Tiger I

This poster presentation describes the group dynamics within a collaborative learning setting. In the Parenting class, which is a requirement within the Human Development and Family Science major, students are encouraged to choose their own groups which will then function as family units for the duration of the semester. The learning principle behind these team exercises is twofold: on the one hand the groups have to cover curricular material and access information related to best parenting practices. On the other hand, by being part of a group themselves, they have to reflect on the challenges that may occur within family units, and this entails meta-cognition. The groups have to collaborate to complete tasks similar to the way families deal with real-life challenges. One of the first tasks concerns parenting techniques in the case of disruptive behavior of children. The groups have to access best parenting practices and resources by accessing sites that list and describe evidence based parenting programs. They have to find best outcomes as a family, and outline the appropriate parenting techniques. It becomes apparent to group members that a family unit has a permanence that has to be accepted, respected, and used a as tool. Not exiting from a group necessitates negotiating skills, display of mutual acceptance and collaboration. The instructor of the class has been trained in the basics of group dynamics, and serves as a resource to guide the students; and can comment on the observed process. Theoretically groups are predicted to go through phases of forming, norming, storming, performing and ultimately adjourning, first described by Tuckman (1965). This sequence is illustrated with descriptions of real-life events occurring in the classroom. When students choose their own groups, the underlying learning principle is to make them responsible for their choices and deal with the unanticipated surprises and challenges. This strategy is intentional. Inevitably, during the semester, cracks appear in these happy units, and students complain that they cannot work in this group, or with that person. When there is dissent in the group, it also provides the perfect learning opportunity. Dynamics of dissent can occur in any group, including family groups. Students are reminded that family groups have permanence and in a similar fashion they cannot change their groups once they have chosen them. Hence the focus shifts to finding techniques and ways of restoring the group homeostasis and thereby implied functioning. In doing so, students are encouraged to follow several steps: one is to understand their group’s behavior according to a systems approach and becoming acquainted with systems theory. Subsequently they need to find ways to resolve the conflict in a respectful manner and become productive. Students realize the parallel between their functioning as a group and many parenting situations. As part of the conflict resolution they need to implement structure in combination with the welcoming qualities of nurture. The student working groups find that just like families, they ultimately have to display constructive coping strategies to support group cohesion and functionality.