Department of Earth Science |Northeastern Illinois University

ESCI 337

Working in Teams
(Much of the material on this page is drawn from materials provided by R.M. Felder and R. Brent, Active and Cooperative Learning, North Carolina State University, 2003)

One goal of this course is to help students learn to work effectively in teams.  Teamwork is a crucial skill for success in the workplace, and research demonstrates that teamwork improves student learning and promotes deeper understanding.  To help the class achieve this goal, homework assignments, some laboratory assignments, and the final project will be completed in teams.  Membership of teams will be assigned by the instructor, and teams will be reformed at least once during the semester.

It is the responsibility of every team member to make sure that everyone participates and that everyone learns.  Each group is responsible for ensuring that non-contributors do not get credit for the team's work.  Each member will have opportunities to evaluate everyone's contribution, and the results will be factored into grades.

Team procedures: For each assignment, do the following:

1) Designate a Coordinator, Recorder, Monitor, and Checker (duties explained below).  Rotate roles for each assignment.  If the team has only three members, the same person will be the monitor and checker.

2) Agree on a meeting time and decide what each member should have done before the meeting.  (For homework problems, each member should have outlined their solution before the team meets.)  The Coordinator should contact team members before the meeting to remind them of the meeting time, place, tasks to be accomplished, and what the individuals are to do before the meeting.

3) Do the required individual work before meeting with the team.  For example, do the reading, outline the solution to the problems, and so on.

4) Meet with the team and work.  Be sure that every member fulfills their assigned role as Coordinator (keep everyone on task and make sure everyone is involved), Recorder (prepare the final paper that will be turned in), Monitor (check to make sure everyone understands the solutions and strategy used to get them), or Checker (double check the final paper, make sure that it follows the guidelines for solving quantitative problems, and hand it in by the deadline).  Set up the next meeting time and agree on the roles for the next assignment.

5) The Checker turns in the assignment, giving the names and roles of everyone who contributed.  It is the Checker's  responsibility to make sure that the assignment is turned in on time.

6) When graded assignments are returned, review them with everyone.  Make sure everyone understands the reasons for the grade assigned.

7) When a conflict arises, try to work through it with the team.  If this doesn't work, consult with the instructor.

Firing Non-Contributors: Teams may "fire" non-contributing team members by using the following process.  First, a non-contributing team member's name should not be included on work handed in.  If non-cooperation continues, the team should meet to discuss the issue and may choose to meet with the instructor.  If non-cooperation continues after this, the team members may notify the non-contributor in writing (with a copy to the instructor) that they are in danger of being fired from the team.  If the situation still does not improve, the team should notify the non-contributor in writing (with a copy to the instructor) that they have been fired.  Students fired from a team must find a group of three to work with; individual assignments done by a fired team member will not be accepted.

Quitting a Team: Any team member has the option to quit the group by using the following process.  First, they must write a memo to the team (with a copy to the instructor) saying that they are thinking about quitting if they do not get cooperation from the group.  If the situation does not improve, they should issue a second memo (with a copy to the instructor) quitting the group.  Students who quit a team must find a group of three to work with; individual assignments done by a team member who quits a group will not be accepted.

Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

© 2006 Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated August 28, 2006.