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:
- Listen well.
- Observe carefully.
- Give constructive feedback.
- 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).
- Monitor your team’s performance on specific tasks (including your own performance).
- Monitor goals, outcomes, and deadlines.
- 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
- 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.
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.