20.020 | Spring 2009 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Biological Engineering Design


PDP4 Teamwork and Learning Styles

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Part 1: Team Dynamics

Listen to the first 10 minutes of a short radio program:

Ruining It for the Rest of Us.” This American Life. Chicago Public Radio. December 19, 2008.

The introduction to this show describes the effect that “one bad apple” can have on a team’s productivity, as well as the simple, almost magical way to counteract the effect. You can stop listening (if you want) when the host introduces Act I.

Then, think about the kind of contributions you’re likely to make to a team, and the kinds you’d like to be making to a team. Copy the following items into a Word document and then answer “almost never,” “sometimes,” or “almost always” to each item:

  • I set team direction (vision/strategies/identity/purpose)
  • I innovate (experiment/take risks)
  • I plan (set goals/set schedules/detail milestones)
  • I align people (communicate team goals/serve as role model/build consensus)
  • I broker plans (manage upward/negotiate/use power and politics)
  • I organize (structure/coordinate/staff/delegate)
  • I motivate (inspire/energize)
  • I monitor (appraise status)
  • I mentor (develop other people’s capabilities)

Now set some plan for development. Choose one aspect from the list above you’d like to learn or change. Next, think of at least one way to accomplish your objective. You should think about what would provide evidence for accomplishment. Evidence for progress might seem small (e.g. asking a question in class, speaking louder, interrupting less) but make the measures for progress as concrete as possible. Remember there is no right or wrong answer to this series of questions. You’re just being asked to commit to some area for growth.

Part 2: Learning Styles

Next, take this questionnaire to gauge your learning style. Take a screen shot of the results and paste it into the Word document you started for Part 1. Then read this index of learning styles and add a few sentences to your Word document to say how well questionnaire’s results match your own impressions of how you best learn.

Time to Complete Team Dynamics and Learning Styles Assessment: 1 Hour Max.

Why are we doing this??

You’re all here to learn and to work on a team project. But teams are only as functional as their most dis-functional member and everyone learns differently. Hopefully today’s challenge and this homework assignment have helped raise your awareness of team dynamics and various learning styles, as well as giving a concrete example of some social implications that may be a consequence of your success.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2009
Learning Resource Types
Tutorial Videos
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples