Team Building Exercises In The College Classroom
Team Building In The Classroom
The start of every course brings new and returning students together to learn concepts or to reinforce ideas on coursework material. The group dynamics of college students affects how the classroom will function during the entire course period. Granted, it is said that you lose 50% of what you learn after one hour, but there exists the ability to recall learnings through interactive exercise at a higher percentage over time.
In order to create an environment conducive to learning where students are comfortable in sharing, having students engage in team building exercises opens the door to positive shared learning experiences.
The basic definition of a a team is a group of two or more individuals working together toward a shared goal. Students are familiar with being part of sports and academic teams and know that it takes the consensus of a group to reach goals. Helping them to understand team dynamics will lead to successful career leadership and responsibility.
Team building exercises in the classroom lead to effective problem solving, innovative solutions and negotiation skills. Each of these skills is key in learning how to guide teams, reducing conflict within the work setting, and establishing performance measures. Shared visions create synergestic empowerment of group members.
The Purpose Of Team Building In The Classroom
Through the years I have found creative team building exercises help students to participate in class and to interact with fellow students in a casual non-threatening setting. The inhibited student will share readily and engage in the project to assist in reaching goals.
I use these exercises to begin a class module, as warm-ups, as introductions and reviews to chapter material, and to break up a lecture series. The movement and action helps to stimulate brain activity and to provide a tool for building classroom solidarity. It provides an opportunity for those students who are often in the background to contribute and express themselves.
Team building increases knowledge and strengths applicable to real world scenarios. Once out in the career field, individuals will most likely work with a team on projects to reach set company goals. Working within a team in class helps a student to comprehend the values, views, and diciplines needed to complete a project.
Team Building Exercise: Battle AquaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Project "Battle Aqua"
Prior to beginning our discussion of war in ethics class, students participated in a mock battle over the resource of water. The purpose was to allow team members to understand the argument over the morality of war.
We separated into two teams, each consisting of ten students. Each team was to designate a captain responsible for setting the strategy and directing the soldiers. They were given basic materials (index cards, paper clips, tape, paper plates) to construct an indestructible water tower. Upon completion, each team fired two cannonballs in an attempt to destroy the other teams tower.
It was interesting to observe how the teams strategized to build towers. They realized the importance of working together, a unity of minds, to produce a tower of strength. They tested their structure for stability and named them "Land Of The Free" and "The Terminator". Overall, it was a learning experience that led to open discussion about the fairness of war, especially as it applied to the teams mock battle. By the way, Land Of The Free endured the brutal cannonball attack and held firm.
Resource on Team Dynamics
Team Building and Collaboration
The Four Stages of Group (Team) Development
In 1965, psychologist, Bruce Tuckman developed a Group Development model to help people understand the stages of teams and what to expect in the process. Teams are similar to any relationship we experience in life, they go through levels of communication and development.
Forming: Group members are beginning to know each other, share their backgrounds, and discuss the project to be accomplished. They will also discuss roles and determine the associated responsibilities and goal.
Storming: The team begins to work together to involve eveyone's personal working style to the project. There may be some conflict as members begin to reason and exchange ideas. Thus, this stage is named for the clash of minds, "storming" that may take place.
Norming: As the team begins to work through conflicts and to establish standards and procedures, These are called norms which are basically expectations and agreements on how the group will conduct themselves and work as a unit to accomplish goals.
Performing: This final stage sees the results of effective teamwork. Here the team is ready to do the project and work together well to accomplish the end goal.
Share Your Thoughts . . .
What is the top team attribute?
What A Team Exercise Accomplishes
Working as teams in a classroom setting allows students to learn in the following ways:
Communication Skills: As members discuss the project details they establish a bond between them making it is easier to become involved in solving the problem. They learn work well with others, build trust and respect each others opinions.
Roles: Team exercises allow students to lead and guide members towards goals. Having several group exercises during the class module or semester gives students opportunity to play different roles such as leader, follower, assistant and supporter. Flexibility is essential in roles and benefits the entire team.
Decision Making: An important part of any team member's role is to build decision making skills. As they continue to work together each member will develop methods on collaboration, handling conflict, and setting priorities.
Builds Trust: As teams develop, members begin to share opinions honestly and this allows for communication of new ideas. As students begin to trust each other they are more apt to take risks leading to creative ideas. Listening skills are strengthened as members begin to understand the importance of open-minded communication in accomplishing set goals.