Faculty Guide to Team Projects
Are you considering using a team project in your course? Have you used them before but feel that there’s room for improvement? Wondering how to address a challenge you or your students face?
This resource provides effective, research-based practices and resources to help you create, support, and assess team projects in your class, whether it’s online, face to face, or hybrid.
Wrapping up the Project
Good practice: Share final team projects with the class and reflect on the outcomes
Share the team projects with the entire class.
If your team project lasted more than a few class sessions, it is useful to share the final products of each team with the entire class. This serves two purposes. First, this makes student work public, which can result in higher quality products. Second, it allows students to learn from other teams’ work.
How to do it:
- Have a class session at the end of the semester/unit where all team projects are displayed for viewing.This could take the form of a poster session, a series of presentations, or a film festival for video output. Other ideas include inviting outside experts to view and perhaps comment on student work, or having students vote on the best work.
- Display final projects on your course site or web site. To ensure that students do view each other’s work, require some type of feedback by students.
Celebrate the success of the project.
It's important to show students how far they have come over the course of the semester. The language you use can help students realize and articulate the skills that they developed in your class.
How to do it:
- Review team accomplishments. Show students what they have accomplished with their projects by connecting them to the course outcomes. When you enumerate and describe the skills students have learned in the class, emphasize how these skills will benefit them in the future.
- Allow students to acknowledge the support they got from each other. You can do this by providing students with a few moments in class to approach their classmates and thank them for any help or insight they may have provided during the process.
- Administer an end-of-class knowledge survey. If students were given a pre-course knowledge probe, administer the same survey at the end of the class to show students how far they have advanced in their knowledge.
- Have a short celebration in class if your class meets face-to-face. Some instructors ask students to approach at least two other classmates and thank them for something that helped their learning during the semester.
Collect feedback from students on the assignment.
At the end of the project, collect student feedback on how the assignment helped their learning in the class. Ask about assignment logistics, descriptions, and faculty support to determine both areas of project strengths and improvement that could be made in the next iteration. Having the project come to some sort of official conclusion, which should include a reflective element, can also result in students feeling more connected to the course material (Holmes, 2010).
How to do it:
- Create a paper survey to distribute at the end of the semester that students complete in class and return to you. Keeping these surveys anonymous helps ensure that students will give honest answers. This could be as simple as passing out blank note cards and asking students what aspects of the project were most beneficial to their learning and what suggestions they have for changing the project.
- Create a survey to administer through your course site at the end of the semester. Assigning a point or two for completing the survey will help increase response rates.
Reflect on the success of the project.
It’s important to look at the success of the project from the standpoint of the instructor. What improvements in learning did you see as a result of this project? Are there additional sub-assignments that would have helped students? What was your grading load like? Where did students seem to struggle the most?
How to do it:
- Set aside time on your calendar after the semester to reflect on what went well and what could be improved in your team project assignment.
- Use your course syllabus to keep notes on the project throughout the semester. Refer to these notes during reflection time. Even if you didn’t take notes, your syllabus can provide a structured outline for considering each of the project components.
- Ask your TA for feedback. If you have teaching assistants, you can task them with keeping notes throughout the semester on how the project is progressing and on what they are hearing from students.
- Holmes, M. H. Modeling team-development lifecycle in public administration courses. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 16(1), 53-66 (2010).
- Petersen, C. I. Adjourning activities: Wrapping up team-based projects. Blog post Techniques in Learning and Teaching, https://uminntilt.com/2014/11/03/adjourning-activities-wrapping-up-team-...(2014).