Assessing Teamwork Using Five Criteria for Cooperative Learning

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Conference Proceeding

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There is a world of difference between teams and groups. A team is truly cooperative, and its accomplishments are greater than the sum of equivalent individual efforts. Cooperative learning, as opposed to group work, has five features: positive interdependence, individual accountability, promotive interaction, social skills, and group processing (Johnson et al., 1998).

The ESSEA problem-based-learning course enforces all five features during both team assignments. These assignments are repeated as part of the learning cycle with every module. The essential features have been incorporated into modified rubrics for a face-to-face undergraduate class, EES 346. The investigators performed a case study of a class with four groups that ran for four modules. One group was extremely dysfunctional, one was marginal, and two were successful. The successful groups did eventually exhibit all five features of a team. Two members of the dysfunctional group had very weak social skills, which made interaction unpleasant, and eventually avoided, and group processing impossible. Part of the marginal team exhibited all five features, but one student, who had a limited view of individual accountability, was not fully involved in the team.

The whole class took the classroom community survey during the third and the eleventh week of class (Rovai, 2002). The scores, especially the community subscore, increased for all students in the successful groups, declined for all members of the dysfunctional group, and increased for two of the students in the marginal group. Next quarter, students will be encouraged to use roles for group members and there will be a discussion of group processing.


Presented at the 2010 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

Paper Number 1-12.

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