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Lesson 5: Education team project case study

EDUC 520: Interdisciplinary Learning

EDUC 520, taught by Dr. Barbara Brown, PhD and Dr. Christy Thomas, EdD along with other instructors, has 16 sections of 35 students in both blended and online formats. The course is a required undergraduate course for education students. In each section, teams of four to five students are formed to co-design a unit plan for K-12 students. Students pitch ideas and interests in an online shared document and then sign up for an area of interest. Instructors help guide this process to ensure that teams have representation from different disciplinary specializations and are a manageable group size. 

Dr. Christy Thomas, EdD, adjunct assistant professor and sessional instructor, Werklund School of School of Education

Dr. Barbara Brown, PhD, assistant professor, Werklund School of Education

  • The course syllabus contains a learning task specifically requiring students to work collaboratively in teams to co-design a unit plan. The course syllabus states, “As future educational leaders, this learning task invites you to work together with peers and wrestle with the tensions of working as part of an interdisciplinary team.”
  • Discussion forums are set up for teams in D2L. These are referred to as studio groups.
  • Shared online documents tracking group progress are created by each team and shared with the instructor. 
  • Time is provided during online Zoom sessions for students to meet and work collaboratively in their teams using the “Breakout Room” feature.  
  • The learning task is assessed as a team assignment and is aligned to the course outcomes. A rubric is provided to students with associated criteria in the course outline and is used for peer review and feedback to make improvements during the group work. 
  • In live Zoom sessions, instructors and students discuss norms, share criteria for successful teamwork and share ideas for technologies that can be used either synchronously or asynchronously.
  • Teams are given time during a Live Zoom session to develop a team contract. 
  • Students are required to submit their team contract using the D2L forum. Each group member responds/approves their contract with a new thread in the discussion forum and includes a statement such as “I have helped draft this contract and agree to the terms of how we plan to work together.”  Alternatively, students may use email and submit their contract this way.  Instructors also review/approve contracts. Using the discussion forum can make all the contracts visible for the class.
  • Individual contributions are made explicit by students signing up for roles in the team project. 
  • Students engage in multiple peer feedback loops asynchronously in D2L Forums during the course using the rubric provided to reflect on the criteria and to make note of areas for improvement.  Teams post their draft projects for feedback to a Discussion Forum created by the instructor and are paired with another team. Teams then review each other’s work and give feedback using the criteria in a reply thread to the forum. Instructors can also provide feedback to each group in the discussion forum.
  • During live Zoom Sessions, peer assessment feedback loops occur by pairing groups with another group and moving two groups to the breakout room to receive feedback. Instructors join breakout rooms during live Zoom sessions and/or arrange meetings with each group for check-in or to meet with groups of students with similar roles to address questions and provide guidance. 
  • At the end of the project, team members self-assess using the rubric and criteria to reflect on their performance and provide evidence of their individual contributions. This is electronically submitted to the Dropbox as a Word doc using track changes.
  • Students are required to develop and submit a team contract using the D2L forum.  Each group member responds to the contract with a new thread in the discussion forum and includes a statement such as “I have helped draft this contract and agree to the terms of how we plan to work together.” Teams are expected to outline how the group will handle issues and complete the project if one or more group members are unable to provide contributions.
  • Teams are expected to assign roles and responsibilities for aspects of the team project. Regular peer feedback loops and instructor feedback encourages groups to reflect on areas of strength and areas for growth.
  • Teams create a shared document that they can work on collaboratively online. Instructors are given “view and comment” privileges to give feedback and address any concerns.
  • Groups are expected to meet regularly with the instructor for check-ins (e.g., two times per week).
  • In addition to the criteria used to assess the content of the group assignment, the following criteria is used for assessing group work:
    • Co-designing Interdisciplinary Learning in a Knowledge- Building Community

      • Demonstrates deep and proficient understanding of all topics and takes a meaningful designer role in fostering idea diversity and a knowledge building community.

      • ​​​​​​​Demonstrates skillful collaboration with peers and continually contributes as a team member to build personal and collective professional capacities and expertise when co-designing an interdisciplinary unit.

Sample grading rubric for EDUC team project

View the sample

Lesson checklist

  • Create a rubric for your online team project 

Plan how you are going to use technology to facilitate online teamwork 

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