Student Octopus

Lesson 3: Biochemistry team project case study

BCEM 393: Classroom-based team projects

Dr. Isabelle Barrette-Ng, PhD teaches BCEM 393, a classroom-based course with 500 students split between two lectures sections and labs. In the lecture sections, she forms diverse teams using, and the students remain in those teams throughout the semester. Instead of one large team project, students work in teams to complete smaller in-class projects due at the end of the class.

For more information about BCEM 393 course design, see the course outline here. Look at page 4 to review the course learning outcome focused on teamwork and the description and rationale of instructional methods. See page 5 for information on peer evaluation. 

Why teamwork is important — even in large classes

Dr. Isabelle Barrette-Ng, PhD, teaching professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science discusses why she incorporates teamwork into large classes of 500-600 students in both online and in-person contexts. 

  • There is a course outcome directly related to teamwork and is assessed. For example, 'By the end of this course, you should be able to work effectively in diverse teams and provide peer feedback to teammates.'
  • Students work with their teams in-class.
  • Assessments are aligned to the course learning outcomes, and include assessments of learning and their ability to work effectively in teams, including providing peer feedback.
  • At the beginning of the semester, Barrette-Ng discusses with students how to be successful in the course and working in teams.
  • Students are required to list their names on in-class assignments to receive credit.
  • Students complete peer evaluations rating the effectiveness of their teammates.
  • Students complete the Team Contract Personal Worksheet to self-identify their learning goals and how they can best work in teams.
  • Students create a team contract at the beginning of the semester, along with other team building activities. The contract is submitted for grades and students receive feedback on their work. They are then given the opportunity to make revisions and resubmit. This is done to best support students as they write a team contract that helps best create a highly-functional team and a positive learning environment for all team members.

Team Contract BCEM

Sample team contract

Download the worksheet

Team contract worksheet

Download the worksheet

Lesson checklist

  • Understand the connection between course design and assessments. 

  • Reflect on strategies to ensure group integration, accountability and management of expectations. 

  • Use tools like team contracts and reflective questions when designing team projects. 

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