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A teaching laboratory is a collaborative learning community (CLC) and depends on knowledge, communication, cooperation, trust, collaboration, maturation, and maintenance. Teamwork is an essential part of a CLC with a team consisting of two or more individuals each with a specific role who perform interdependent tasks, are adaptable, and share a common goal. Due to the complexity and interdisciplinary requirements in research and production, scientists generally work as teams whether in the industry, university, clinical, or medical arenas.  Internal teamwork plays a key role in enhancing safety and quality control and creates a culture of continuous quality improvement within the laboratory.  To work effectively together in an undergraduate laboratory setting, team members must learn and then perform the three aspects of teamwork

  1. Communication
    • Listen well.
    • Observe carefully.
    • Give constructive feedback.
  2. Participation in KSAs
    • Knowledge of you and your team’s assigned tasks.
    • Skills to perform tasks.
    • Attitude (positive disposition toward working in a team and completing specific tasks).
  3. Responsibility
    • Monitor your team’s performance on specific tasks (including your own performance).
    • Monitor goals, outcomes, and deadlines.

Culture Quality

  • Encourage two-way communication. Be open to new ideas, feedback and suggestions.
  • Reporting of issues, problems, events and errors is encouraged and supported, but culpable behaviors are not tolerated.
  • Learning culture: issues, problems, events and errors are handled as learning opportunities, with corrective actions for the lab team.
  • Recognize effort.
  • Help all team members succeed.

Steps to initiate effective teamwork

  1. Assign a project coordinator that will:
    • Make sure that the deadlines are met.
    • Focus the team on tasks (both short term and long term).
    • Get participation from all team members.
    • Suggest alternative procedures when the team is stalled.
    • Help team members confront problems.
    • Summarize and clarify the team’s decisions.
  2. Define the role of each member by clearly defining the specific task responsibilities needed for that role including outcomes for each task and the expected deadlines. Examples of roles may include record keeper, time keeper, assessor, IT specialist, etc.
  3. Assign roles and tasks to each team member.  The coordinator may need to be assigned another task within the coordinator role.


Sometimes, you may have a non-team player (i.e., one who does nothing to contribute), resolve the problem as soon as you notice the issue by calmly asking for the task to be completed.


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