(154d) Giving a Grade to Teamwork

Cole, J., Northwestern University
Throughout the undergraduate engineering curriculum students have the opportunity to work in team settings. These team experiences could be anything from occasionally working together on homework to a full capstone design project experience. Teaming activities are prevalent in industry as well. Because teaming is such an important part of becoming a successful engineer, we should be helping students learn how to work on teams. Indeed even ABET feels so strongly about preparing students for teamwork that it gives teamwork its own Student Outcome.

To emphasize improving team skills and learning how to function on teams in our course, we have been assigning grades to teamwork. While the obvious item to grade is the product of teamwork (for example the project or homework assignment), what is harder to assess is team health. Unless we followed the team around twenty-four seven throughout the term we would not be privy to how teams handle work distribution, decision-making, and conflict. We rely on the teams to report how well their team is functioning.

In our course students work on teams for a full term project. We collect team feedback twice throughout the term through a survey administered by teamwork assessment software. Students are asked a series of questions to assess themselves and their teammates on contribution to the team’s work and interactions with each other. The instructor and team members review the feedback to get a picture of the current team health. At the midterm feedback review, teams are asked to identify one developmental goal to improve team performance. At the final feedback survey, students are invited to comment on whether they have met their developmental goal. Teamwork grades are based on improvement on the developmental goal, improvement between midterm and final feedback surveys, participation in teamwork assessment process, and the assessment of the product of teamwork (for example final project or written report.)