Teaching Team-effectiveness in Large Classes

First Year design classes at the University of Toronto range from 300 to 1000 students working on team projects. Given the size of these classes, creating a personalized learning experience for each student can be a significant challenge.

Led by PhD candidate Patricia Sheridan, this research project aims to enable each student to engage in personalized learning on their individual team-effectiveness. Patricia’s work involves the development of the Team-effectiveness Learning System (TELS). The TELS facilitates a customized, online learning experience that seeks to improve students’ team-effectiveness behaviours by accounting for their current competency levels. The TELS integrates with team-based courses to introduce students to effective teamwork through accompanying lectures and tutorial exercises.

The TELS combines lessons about how to work effectively in teams with a self- and peer-assessment instrument that allows students to gauge their current level of performance within their team. Students complete the instrument measuring their performance along three aspects of team-effectiveness. Based on their greatest assessed strengths and weaknesses, students are directed towards the lessons and exercises in the TELS that provide them the greatest opportunity for improvement. Students can track their development across different courses and teams through an online portfolio that stores their received feedback from different assessments, as well as their performance in the lessons and exercises.

The TELS and accompanying assessment instrument have been in development since Summer 2011, and have been tested in over five courses across different cohorts and disciplines of students including First Year engineering design courses ESC102 and APS112. The TELS is currently in its third revision and will be used as the platform for teaching effective teamwork in several academic courses in the coming year.

Find out more

We are looking to expand our impact by increasing the number of courses in which TELS is used. If you are interested in integrating the TELS and teamwork instruction into your course, please contact Patricia Sheridan at patricia.sheridan@utoronto.ca.