We are pleased to congratulate Indiana University’s Janet Hillier and Linda M. Dunn-Jensen, who have received the Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award for 2013. Their paper “Groups Meet…Teams Improve: Building Teams that Learn” appeared in the October 2013 issue of Journal of Management Education.
We also found clear linkages to Roethlisberger’s legacy. For example, Roethlisberger advocated the view, novel at his time, that the workplace is a complex social system, and this social system influences work behavior. This insight is central to our award-winning article’s contribution. Hillier and Dunn-Jensen point out that teaching teamwork commonly involves requiring students to provide individual-level feedback to team members. Unfortunately, this approach is often counterproductive: “Feedback at the individual level of analysis often consists of individual team members reviewing other members’ performance, which can have deleterious consequences and often lead to hurt feelings, anger, finger-pointing, and withdrawal” (p. 707).
Instead, Hillier and Dunn-Jensen focus attention on the group as a whole and emphasize consistent, structured team-level feedback as a mechanism to gauge team performance. They propose that the processes and procedures that facilitate organizational learning can be applied to facilitate team learning. They provide a learning team model that builds on a foundation of team feedback, which is integrated with a team charter and a formal team assessment process. Using the model takes students through repeated cycles of inquiry and learning, paralleling Roethlisberger’s own commitment to inquiry and learning.
This teaching innovation article also satisfied our human interest criterion. The authors provide all the necessary materials for implementing their approach, examples of its application in three different class settings at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and both quantitative and qualitative evidence of student learning. One committee member noted, “The feedback from students the authors provided in the article is testament to the real discoveries that students derive from taking part in this activity.”
The abstract of “Groups Meet…Teams Improve: Building Teams that Learn”:
Although most business students participate in team-based projects during undergraduate or graduate course work, the team experience does notalways teach team skills or capture the team members’ potential: Students complete the task at hand but the explicit process of becoming a team is often not learned. Drawing from organizational learning and group/team theory, this article presents a “learning team model” that emphasizes feedback at the team—not individual—level of analysis by establishing a team feedback tool that can be easily and regularly used to improve performance. In addition to the feedback tool, a structured process is presented in which students learn to become a team.
Click here to read “Groups Meet…Teams Improve: Building Teams that Learn” for free for the next 30 days from Journal of Management Education. Stay up to date on all the latest news and research from Journal of Management Education! Click here to sign up for e-alerts!