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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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