Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
The authors state that special attention should be given to STEM education by applying new teaching practices in order to provide students with deeper understanding of the subject matter. To apply these teaching practices in a coherent way across a series of subjects, the instructional change team is usually formed. The research was focused on the nature of team collaboration in the context of undergraduate STEM.
The research data was collected in a form of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with team leaders and team members. Twenty-three team members from four teams at three institutions across the USA were interviewed. The teams were from the departments of biology, physics, material science, and engineering. The detailed overview about the initial goals, development, perspectives, decision-making processes, outcomes was provided for each team. Additional demographic information about participants was also provided.
The transcripts of the collected interviews were analyzed line-by-line. This analysis enabled to identify similar patterns in team processes and emergent states. The axial coding was enabled to identify the inter-relationships among the subcategories and the team outcomes. The team outcomes are defined as sustainability and quality of instructional changes, collaboration and individual changes.
A model of instructional change teams with defined team inputs, emergent states, processes, and outcomes is provided in the paper.
The study identifies emergent states which refer to team members’ point of view to their collaboration:
- Shared vision: a collective understanding of a teams’ goal and mission
- Psychological safety: sharing their opinions and actions in the team do not cause professional risk
- Team cohesion: team members have a strong interpersonal connection and share a sense of accountability to the team goals
The study also identifies team processes which are defined as acts that convert team inputs to team outputs:
- Egalitarian power dynamics: team members welcome, value, and consider contributions of each team member in equal manner.
- Team member commitment: team members show high levels of engagement and interest to implement team’s task.
- Effective communication: team members share information, work through conflicts, openly discuss the issues and communicate in a way to achieve understanding between the team members.
- Clear decision-making processes: the process by which the decisions relevant to the team are made.
- Strategic leadership: the process in which one or more team members (usually the formal leader) engage in the problem-solving related to conflicts in the team, achieving team goals, identifying long-term perspectives and threats.
The authors discuss the relationship between the states and the processes. For example, they state that shared vision is influenced by the effective communication and clear decision-making process. Similarly, egalitarian power dynamics contribute to psychological safety. It is stated, that the strategic leadership influences all other processes. The actions of this process are usually initiated by the formal team leader and cover selecting team individuals, assigning tasks that fits the members’ competences and interests, creating inclusive working environment. The suggested model helps to identify strengths and weaknesses of the instructional change team.