Teamwork in classes is way overrated.
I am taking a continuing ed class at FSU in library leadership. We have to do the majority of our work in team format. We have been assigned teams, based on what type of library we preferred (although I don’t know how that’s going to make any difference overall). There are four people in my team. We have to present in class on Monday and we have to meet beforehand to prep the presentation. So three of us corresponded on the discussion board yesterday, and today two of us met in in the team chat room in Blackboard. I guess the third didn’t get the message about the time. The first thing I did this morning was check back in to see if anyone had posted a meeting time, and indeed she had, so she and I met at the designated time this morning. The third person, who had chimed in previously, did not appear, and no one has heard from the fourth person, who is the only guy.
So the other girl and I did what we had to do: we each presented what we had found out, and talked about how we might present that in class. She is going to email the other two with a poll, and wait until tomorrow morning to see if we hear from them. In the meantime, she and I agreed to meet again tomorrow morning at the same time, and if neither of the other two is there, I guess we’ll proceed with the two of us.
I have been lucky in the past two classes with the teams I’ve been on, but I’ve had some terrible teams in the past, and it’s particularly difficult to work online when you are hundreds of miles apart. I hope this one is not going to be one where there are two of us doing all the work. I guess we will be able to tell the instructor that at some point, but still, it’s not fair. Although if they, especially the guy, are not conscientious enough to check their email or the discussion board, then heck with ’em.
In our business degree program, the final capstone course that the students take is a completely teamwork-based course, where the teams have to decide on a business that they would like to start, and write a complete business plan about it. I have had so many complaints over the years from these capstone students. Usually there is one of them coming in to the library to do all the research and they are bitching about the rest of their team as they do it.
In the real world, there have been very few instances where I have worked on a team that is similar to the ones that I have found in my classes. It’s too artificial. Real world teams don’t work like that. When I taught the capstone class, I had only five students, and I made them each do their own business plan. Most often in the real world, you end up doing things yourself. You may have a team leader who assigns work, but it’s not a democracy. The team is headed by someone in a position of authority, and that person has the power over you to make you do what you’re supposed to. In classes they try to run the teams as democracies and it doesn’t really work all that well.
I sympathize with the students, but there’s not much I can do about it. I don’t know why instructors are so sold on the team concept; supposedly they have worked in the real world and should know how these things go, but they seem to forget all that when they step into the classroom. In my opinion, if you’re not responsible and you’re not someone who gets along well with others, you’re going to be a lousy team member, and no amount of being on teams in classes is going to change that.
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