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The True of Teamwork

The True of Teamwork

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Published by croiman

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Published by: croiman on Apr 03, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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in higher educa-tion, employers have long requested, de-manded, and implored that colleges anduniversities help students develop the teamskills needed to address challenges posed byinnovation. Employers seek college graduateswho, in the face of persistent ambiguity andwithin increasingly complex environments,are able to collaborate with people with abroad diversity of backgrounds, cultural ori-gins, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. In re-sponse, colleges and universities nationwidehave offered public assurances that, upongraduation, students possess those skills.Why then do graduates still lack real teamskills? Haven’t theybeen provided withopportunities to deepen their self-knowledge,appreciation for diversity, and knowledge of different cultures? Haven’t they been givenopportunities to work together in classes?What’s the problem?Traditional curricula provide learning expe-riences that place the responsibility on stu-dents to capture the salient points, catalogthose points, retrieve and apply them at anappropriate moment; students learn, synthe-size, and apply. A student may, for example,take an introductory course that focuses ongaining self-knowledge and, near the end of his or her studies, another course on or in-volving collaborative methods, consensusbuilding, group dynamics, small-groupprocesses, or teamwork. These topics may beexplored either theoretically or through apractical project and either with or withoutintentional processing to extract and rein-force the learning that takes place. The stu-dent may also have undertaken leadershiproles in the cocurriculum. But the key ques-tion raised by this traditional approach is
is professor of interna-tional business at Rollins College, and
is Monaghan Professor of Management atBirmingham-Southern College.
It is imperative to find better ways of helping studentssuccessfully masterwhat are not onlythe constituentelements of team-work but, arguably,also representativeoutcomes of aliberal education
The True Teamwork
   F   E   A   T   U   R   E   D    T   O   P   I   C
Annual Meeting
Blending the Liberal Arts andInternational Business Education
   F   E   A   T   U   R   E   D    T   O   P   I   C
whether the responsibility for making connec-tions should rest predominately, let alone ex-clusively, with students.It is not uncommon for the elements of teamwork to be developed separately across thestudent’s curricular and cocurricular experi-ences.Courses involving one or more of theseelements are taught by different instructorsfrom different disciplines and domains. Thissegmentation in time, teachers, disciplines, anddomains jeopardizes the cohesion of learning.It is, therefore, imperative to find better ways of helping students successfully master what arenot only the constituent elements of teamworkbut, arguably, also representative outcomes of a liberal education: deeper, richer understand-ing of oneself as an individual; perception,knowledge, and understanding of others whoare different from oneself; and the ability to en-gage in meaningful and effective collaborationto solve complex problems. Can these out-comes be “blended” together and presented asfacets of a cohesive whole—and if so, how?In some cases, the architecture of academicprograms has been specifically designed eitherto bridge professional studies and the liberalarts or to enable students to make connectionsacross learning experiences and academic do-mains. These purposes are often accomplishedthrough a discipline distribution approach tocourse planning that mandates a percentage of courses be taken outside of the major. But howmuch more powerful would it be if students sawand participated with faculty in blending pur-poses from across domains? By drawing fromconcepts typically present in introductory-levelcourses, faculty can model for students theprocess of making connections between seem-ingly disparate domains of knowledge. In otherwords, content can be blended to enhancestudent learning. Most faculty members viewthemselves as specialists and are likely to resistteaching outside their particular domains.Yet we expect our students to make connectionsacross their learning to apply concepts fromseveral different domains to solve problems.We claim, indeed we hope, that liberally edu-cated graduates do this intentionally. In orderto help students learn to make connections,we, as faculty, need to step a bit outside of ourcomfort zones of specialization and demon-strate the power of an interdisciplinary or multi-dimensional approach to problem solving.Decision making, for example, involves theuse of oral and written communication skillsto receive information and disseminate deci-sions to those affected; recognition of patternsfrom past experience to determine the appro-priate methodology to apply in a given situation;utilization of cost-benefit analysis to value al-ternative courses of action; and drawing uponbehavioral knowledge to gain “buy in” for thedecision. Blending these into one cohesivelearning experience enables students to com-bine skills and abilities developed throughcoursework in the humanities, fine arts, naturalsciences, and social sciences as well as throughprofessional studies. Faculty can orchestrateblended learning opportunities via materialsselected from an array of academic domains,assignments, and class discussions. Wouldn’t
Student Benefits fromthe True Teamwork Model
Gain Meaningful Self-knowledge
Explore dimensions of their personalitythrough an affirming process using theMyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) andGoleman’s Emotional Intelligence (EI)modelValue diversity by exploring cultural her-itage and thereby establishing a platformto genuinely value and better understandthe nuances and complexities of differentculturesExplore behaviors and attitudes that fre-quently are associated with friction andmisunderstandings between people fromdifferent cultures via Hofstede’s CulturalDimensions
Gain Understanding of Others
Share, with respect for personal comfortzones, within a discussion group, insightsfrom the MBTI and the EmotionalIntelligence modelShare insights about cultural heritages andthe cultural dimensions
Learn Meaningful Collaboration
Learn the expected stages of team develop-ment and progression via Tuckman’s modelPractice meaningful collaboration viateamwork by combining individual compe-tencies to tackle complex, new tasks

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