Purpose Teams are a mechanism for individual students to become more actively involved in the learning process. The discussion and peer education that occurs in teams can be extremely valuable. Working in teams allows for many different viewpoints, which are essential in good design. Working in teams also allows us to take on larger projects than any individual could do alone.
Problems When all members of a team are actively engaged a team can be a great learning experience. There are, however, some problems.
  • Unprepared - These are those who do not do their individual assignments and come to team meetings without the necessary background. Coming unprepared is a drag on the productivity of the team. The other team members must either take their time to bring you up to speed or they must work around you because you are not able to contribute.

  • Loafers - These are those who do not contribute. They do the bare minimum. They exploit the energy of others in hopes of getting a grade they did not earn.

  • Egos - These are those who are overly fond of their own skills and opinions. Sometimes such individuals dominate the conversation and sucking all of the air out of the room. Such individuals may actually be very talented and may actually know all of the right answers. However, there is too much work to be done for one person to do it. Join the team. Help your peers. Respect people's contributions. Even if you are as talented as you think you are, that makes you a small minority of the user population. You need to input of others unlike yourself, to produce good designs.

Team formation Generally, you will have the same team all the way through the course. If particular problems arise, the instructor may do some rearrangement of the teams.

A survey will be given to assess the backgrounds of the various class members and the instructor will assign the teams.

Grading For team projects there will be a team grade, which all team members will recieve. This makes you mutually responsible for the work and for each other.

Periodically there will be peer evaluations of team members. These evaluations will address the folowing points for yourself as well as each individual team member.

  • Overall value and contribution to the team
  • Hard work and timely contributions (do you carry your share and get it done)
  • Willingness to cooperate, listen to and work with others (can you play nice)

The results of these evaluations will impact your grade and will be shared individually with each student. When shared, the identity of the evaluators will be anonymous.This is a very important exercise and should be done with great thought. It is also important that this be confidential. Do no ask anyone to disclose their evaluations. Do not tell anyone how you evaluated anyone else. After the first rating, every class member will have an interview with the instructor to discuss their performance and hopefully correct any problems.