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Can Peers Be Used Effectively To Assess Teams: Task/Team Function Observations During Team Building Exercises

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Student Teams & Active Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.284.1 - 9.284.7

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Paper Authors

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Robert Knecht

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2131


Robert Knecht

Colorado School of Mines

Abstract – This presentation describes a model used to illustrate functions that team members assume during teambuilding exercises. The Design (EPICS) program introduces teams of engineering students to design, technical communications and teamwork processes through an open-ended, client-based project. Teams conduct a series of exercises in which half perform the exercise and the other half observe teamwork based on an observations technique developed by Eberhardt. During the forming phase of the project, teams emphasize task (75%) functions but learned the value of team (25%) functions. By the end of the semester, team performance relies on a balance of task (52%) and team (48%) skills. Essentially all observations collected for each function are statistically similar over six semesters of data collection.

Following the Second World War, the National Training Laboratory for Behavioral Studies developed a method for describing team performance based on a balance of task and team functions. Task functions, critical to producing a quality product, focused on activities aimed at the project goal. Team functions, critical to maintaining team unity, focused on behaviors and a team-centered approach to solving problems. These functions initially developed by Benne and Sheats1 were refined over the years by Schein2 and Eberhardt3 as training instruments.

Eberhardt identified two sets of functions necessary to operate optimally as a team. Her instrument consisted of ten categories evenly divided between task and team functions, summarized in Table III. As observed by Applbaum4 and Jones and Bearley5, the synthesis of these functions led to successful problems solving.

TABLE III Team Function during Decision-Making Processes Function Description Function Description Task Functions Team Functions Initiating Proposing goals or actions Harmonizing Reconciling disagreements Information Seeking Asking for factual clarification Gate Keeping Keeping channels open Information Giving Offering facts Encouraging Being friendly and responsive Clarifying Interpreting ideas or suggestions Compromising Offering alternatives in conflicts Summarizing Pulling together related ideas Standard Setting Expressing standards for the team

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Knecht, R. (2004, June), Can Peers Be Used Effectively To Assess Teams: Task/Team Function Observations During Team Building Exercises Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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