Does Team Formation Impact Student Performance, Effort and Attitudes in a College Course Employing Collaborative Learning?

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Sarah E. Pociask
David Gross
Mei-Yau Shih


The literature on team-based learning emphasizes the importance of team composition and team design, and it is recommended that instructors organize teams to ensure diversity of team members and optimal team performance. But does the method of team formation actually impact student performance? The goal of the present study was to examine whether different team formation methods would affect individual and team performance outcomes and student attitudes in an undergraduate general education course. Across three different sections of the same course, teams were either designed by the instructor, by the students, or randomly by a computer program. We found that teams designed by the course instructor were more diverse, but that students in these teams performed no better than their peers in self-selected or randomly assigned teams. Because student performance was similar regardless of team formation method, these findings suggest that student formed teams can be a reasonable option for instructors to consider when planning a team-based course.



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How to Cite
Pociask, S. E., Gross, D., & Shih, M.-Y. (2017). Does Team Formation Impact Student Performance, Effort and Attitudes in a College Course Employing Collaborative Learning?. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 17(3), 19–33.
Author Biographies

Sarah E. Pociask, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

David Gross, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Full Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Mei-Yau Shih, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Associate Director at the Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development


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