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Peer Review

Building Blocks for Teams

by Elizabeth Pyatt


Overall Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Aug 12, 2005 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: This is a very comprehensive site with a lot of information about teams. The
various pages contain definitions, benefits of teamwork, qualities of a
functional team, teamwork skills, assessing teams, managing conflict in teams,
and virtual teams. This site was developed to demonstrate how to effectively
incorporate teamwork into courses, avoid common pitfalls and turn teaming into a
valuable learning experience for students.
Learning Goals: Major learning goals are focused on learning about teams from the student point
of view and from the instructor point of view. The site is designed as a
resource to help faculty integrate teamwork into courses and second, it has a
component to help students function effectively in a team environment. A user
of the website will obtain definitions, additional resources, tips, and other
"how-to" points.
Target Student Population: The target student population is both undergraduate and graduate students from
any discipline.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: There is no prerequisite knowledge or skill necessary other than navigating a
Type of Material: The material is lecture/presentation.
Recommended Uses: This material could be used in a number of ways ranging from a pure
informational resource about teams to assisting students in teams to perform
optimally. It would be helpful to assign the student module to students prior
to beginning teamwork in class. It could be assigned as homework reading or it
could be discussed in class.
Technical Requirements: Internet access.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The site is comprehensive, simple, and provides resources for additional
research applications. It is a great way to introduce team theories to students.
This is an excellent module that provides a very informative overview for
instructors who are currently or plan in the future to use teams in the
classroom. It addresses many of the areas where instructors will be seeking
instruction and advice such as: the benefits of teams; addressing complaints;
the skills needed; how to assess teamwork; conflict resolution; how to group
students into teams; how to start students on projects (this section also
provides some start up exercises) and how to track team progress to name just a
few areas. Similarly, the module does an excellent job of addressing many of
the questions students will have as they begin working in a team – especially
since for many of them this will be their first experience working in a team.
It is especially effective in discussing how students should deal with
unproductive/uncooperative team members and how they can address the inevitable
conflicts that will arise.
Concerns: It would be helpful to also post sample team charters or contracts as well as
sample evaluation forms. In addition, it would be important to inform the user
that team theory is extensive and warrants a great deal more reading than is
contained on this site. Because this website is designed by and for Penn State
faculty and students it does refer to certain course/information management
tools that are available at that school. However, this does not diminish the
usefulness of this site as a reference tool for others.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: This site provides an excellent overview to help students work in teams. It
provides excellent advice and information on why teams are beneficial, how to
organize work, how to communicate with team members and how to deal with
conflict. The site provides additional references. The site helps students to
address the challenge of how to handle poor or non-performing team members. This
is a great introduction and overview of teams and lays a strong foundation for
expectations for team membership and performance.
Concerns: The author(s) could perhaps list links to the latest research. Simple cases
might also be a good way to illustrate some of the points, particularly about
resolving conflict.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Very clear and easy to use. Navigation is a breeze.
Concerns: None.

Other Issues and Comments: Very well done and comprehensive discussion of teams. All together, a
considerable amount of material about teams. This would be a very useful
website to send student teams to for basics about working in teams.