Working in Teams. Good or Not?

I've never been a group person.  Leave me in a room alone with my work and let me at it.

Though groups are necessary in the business world, and other places, a new study has found that maybe I'm more normal than I know (nah).

According to newswise.com, whether people enjoy working in groups or not, the cohesiveness of a team can be instrumental in the success or failure of group activities and each person's fulfillment of individual goals.

But can teamwork be taught?

Patrick Sonner, PhD, and Michelle Newsome, PhD, instruct a core natural sciences course for undergraduates in which students work in groups of four for the duration of the semester. “Anecdotally, students report poor experiences working in teams even though, individually, all students in the team are intelligent and capable of completing the task. This suggests that there are certain skills that must be learned in order to work effectively in a team,” the researchers wrote in their abstract. 

"What we found was that students who were exposed to various tools to aid in enhancing group effectiveness had a positive correlation between average group grade and their self-identified score for equality of the distribution of group work, while students in the control class had a negative correlation,” Sonner says. They also found that the experimental classes had a positive association between the group’s influence and the grade the group received. Students in the experimental classes were also more willing to answer open-ended questions about the group’s effectiveness than the control class was.

While the researchers admit more work remains to be done to validate and expand upon these findings, it appears that students who were exposed to a variety of tools throughout the semester to aid in enhancing their group effectiveness had grades that were more closely aligned with how effective they thought their group was. "This alignment may be due to enhanced awareness of the role of their group and how effective it is, due to reminders throughout the course,” Sonner said.

So how does this relate to the work world?  I suppose, if groups are given the tools up front to help them work as a team, rather than just handed a project, and told to do it, we might have a little more success.



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