Improve Students’ Self-Awareness and Collaboration Skills

It’s been over a decade since government and industry declared teamwork skills “essential” and educational institutions focused intently on improving their students’ ability to work in teams. Yet, today, the concerns over a “considerable interpersonal skill” gap remain and new graduates are still said to lack the teamwork skills required for success in team-based environments.

One reason for the enduring skill gap has been the lack of adequate tools for assessing teamwork skills. It’s darn hard to improve skills that can’t be measured well. Educational institutions continue to evaluate teamwork skills primarily through peer-assessments, which lack accuracy and make students feel uncomfortable having to evaluate each other.

So, we designed a simulation assessment to provide an objective evaluation of teamwork skills that can be used anywhere and anytime (no team required!). This tool can help diagnose your students’ strengths and developmental areas… and even evaluate the efficacy of your current training programs.

Would you like to try it with your class? Email us, igor.kotlyar@uoit.ca, and we’ll be happy to share with you our tool and our own in-class experiences!

Our Experience

We often use this simulation in class ourselves to help our students develop a deeper level of self-awareness of their strengths and skill gaps and help them improve their teamwork skills!

One teaching approach that we have found to be very effective is to combine the simulation assessment with a self-reflection exercise. Here are the instructions we provide to students:

Self-Assessment and Reflection Assignment

This assignment involves 2 steps.

Step 1: Go to https://app.skillsimulator.com and complete a team-based exercise to assess your teamwork skills. At the end of this exercise, you will receive a report of your Teamwork Skills. Please either print of screen-capture your results, because once you leave the page you will be unable to retrieve them and you will need this information to complete your Reflection Report.

Step 2: Complete Your Reflection Report. Immediately after your assessment report, you will be directed to a form containing the reflection questions. Complete and submit the Reflection Report online.

Reflection Report: Teamwork Skills

Reflect on your teamwork skills. Demonstrate evidence-based analysis and insight.

1. How would you describe your teamwork skills, according to the assessment results? In your opinion, how accurately does the assessment reflect your teamwork skills? Explain. Be specific and provide evidence/examples. (Max 500 words)

2. In your opinion, what are your main areas of teamwork strengths? How can you leverage your strengths to become a more effective team player (i.e., what strategies can you use)? Be specific and provide examples. (Max 500 words)

3. In your opinion, which of your teamwork skills require further development? How can you effectively improve these skills? Be specific and provide examples. (Max 500 words)

Grading

You will be graded only on the quality of your Reflection Report, based on the following criteria (you will NOT be graded on the level of your teamwork skills).

1. Depth of Reflection: Your reflection is thorough (max 1,500 words), insightful and evidence based. Please note that simply stating something (e.g., “My teamwork skills are great”) does not constitute a reflection; a reflection involves an explanation of one’s reasoning and should address the “why?” (i.e., why are you saying that?). 

2. Accuracy and Logic: Your statements are accurate and well supported with clear logic and detailed examples/illustrations (you may include any examples from your life which you deem relevant). You demonstrate a logical line of reasoning and conclusions, as well as a clear connection between your analysis, examples and specific skills being discussed.

3. Internal Consistency: All analyses and insights are internally consistent and logically connected.

4. Clarity of Writing: Your writing is easy to read and makes instant sense. Your reflection is presented using a clear and concise writing style and proper sentence structure. There are no spelling, grammar, or syntax errors. (You may write in first person, e.g., “I”)

Our students really enjoy this exercise and find it very valuable!

How do we know?

Following every assignment, we administer a survey to collect students’ affective and utility reactions on a scale of 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”).

Here’s a representative set of responses by students enrolled in a 2nd year undergraduate business course – nearly 85% of students selected “agree” or “strongly agree” in response to the statement “Completing the simulation exercise and receiving the assessment report helped me learn about my teamwork skills”.

We commonly see 75-90% of students select “agree” and “strongly agree” to statements such as “I enjoyed doing this assignment”, “I felt the assignment was interesting and valuable”, and “I would recommend this assignment to others”.

Our students also frequently share with us their personal stories of how this assignment has helped them gain a deeper personal insight and improve their teamwork skills!