Facilitating Dysfunctional Teams

A team is a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.[1] Although student teams may not satisfy all the requirements of the definition, the degree to which they do often determines their effectiveness.

"Students do not come to school with the social skills they need to collaborate effectively with others. So teachers need to teach the appropriate communication, leadership, trust, decision making, and conflict management skills to students and provide the motivation to use these skills in order for groups to function effectively."[2] Faculty must take responsibility to help students develop their skills to participate on and lead teams.

One of the more common questions that faculty members raise in Foundation Coalition workshops on student teams is what to do about dysfunctional teams. In an effort to provide constructive responses to this question, faculty members across the Foundation Coalition have assembled this document that addresses the following questions.

References for Further Information

  1. Katzenbach, J.R., and Smith, D.K., 1992. Wisdom of Teams, Harvard Business School Press.
  2. Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., and Holubec, Edythe Johnson, Circles of Learning: Cooperation in the Classroom, rev. edition, Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company, 1986.
  3. Busseri, Michael, and Palmer, Jason. “Improving teamwork: the effect of self-assessment on construction design teams.” Design Studies 21 (2000) 223–238.
  4. Dee, Jay, and Henkin, Alan. “Collaborative Learning, communication and student outcomes in higher education: assessing verbal interaction” J. Staff, Program and Organization Development. Vol. 16, no. 3, winter 1998–1999, pp. 125–134.


Suggestions for Further Reading
Dumaine, B., 1994. “The trouble with teams.” Fortune, September 5, 1994, vol. 130 .n 5 p. 86 (5).

Hoevemeyer, Victoria. “How effective is your team?” Training and Development, September 1993, pp. 67–71.

Kalliath, T., 1999. “Teaching team effectiveness in an O.D. Course.” Organization Development Journal. Vol. 17, no. 3, Fall 1999, pp. 39–48.

Kline, Theresa. “The Team Player Inventory: reliability and validity of a measure of predisposition toward organizational team-working environments.” J. for Specialists in Group Work, vol. 24, no. 1, March 1999, pp. 102–112.

Levi, D., and Cadiz, D., 1998. “Evaluating Team work on student projects: the use of behaviorally anchored scales to evaluate student performance.

Parker, G.M., 1990. Team players and teamwork: The new competitive business strategy. Jossey-Bass Inc.: CA.

Paris, C., Salar, E., and Cannon-Bowers, J., 2000. “Teamwork in multi-person systems: a review and analysis” Ergonomics, 2000, vol. 43, no. 8, 1052–1075.

Slavin, R., 1996. “Research on cooperative learning and achievement: what we know, what we need to know.” Contemporary Educational Psychology, 21, 43–69.

Springer, L., Stanne, M.E., and Donovan, S., 1999. “Effects of Small-Group Learning on Undergraduates in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology: A Meta-Analysis.” Review of Educational Research. Spring 1999, 69:1, 21–51.

Tjosvold, D. (1986). Working Together to Get Things Done. Lexington Books: MA.
Trimble, S., and Rottier, J., 1998 “Assessing Team Performance.

Valkenbury, R., and Dorst, K., 1998. “The reflective practice of design teams” Design Studies 19, 249–271.

Walker, C., and Angelo, T., 1998. “A Collective Effort Classroom Assessment Technique: Promoting High Performance in Student Teams.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 75, Fall 1998, pp. 101–112.