Developing Teamwork Skills in Undergraduate Science Students: The Academic Perspective and Practice

Rowan Brookes

Abstract


Learning to function as an effective team member is an important skill for science graduates. A science curriculum that supports the development of teamwork skills ensures graduates are equipped with workplace skills that are required in research and other professional careers. This study used a survey to investigate the academic perspective and practice of teaching teamwork within the undergraduate science curriculum in Australian universities. The findings suggest the majority of science academics are positive about the importance of developing teamwork skills in graduates. Fewer academics are confident that teamwork skills are being sufficiently developed through the curriculum. Respondents primarily assigned teamwork activities because it develops interpersonal skills, encourages peer sharing and mimics a real-world environment. Those respondents, who didn’t assign teamwork, thought it wasn’t suitable to the course, or believed the challenges associated with group dynamics outweighed the benefits of assigning teamwork activities. Current approaches for the development of teamwork skills are varied, with the majority of respondents favouring curriculum-integrated approaches. With a greater understanding of the academic perspective of teaching teamwork, those involved with leading curriculum change can better develop approaches to ensure these valuable skills are fostered in science graduates.

Keywords


Teamwork, undergraduate, science, employability skills, curriculum

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