Strategies for effective creation, implementation, and assessment of student teams

Kendra Spence Cheruvelil 

Thursday, October 20, 2016 11:30 - 1:30 

3405 Engineering

Lunch Provided

Abstract: Although many STEM classes and labs make use of student teams, instructors often struggle with how to best form these teams, how to help student teams be most effective, and how to assess student teamwork. Further, many students resist working in teams and report learning less when in a team than when working individually. I will share strategies that I use in Introductory Organismal Biology to increase student learning in teams: 1) include an explicit learning objective regarding teamwork; 2) teach students why they should work in a student team; 3) teach students how to be part of an effective student team; and 4) use freely-available online software that helps instructors to use self-chosen and evidence-based criteria to a) deliberately create student teams and b) formally assess team functioning throughout the semester. During this workshop, we will complete some of the exercises that have dramatically improved student satisfaction and success in my course, as well reduced instructor guesswork and stress regarding student teams.

Bio: Dr. Kendra Spence Cheruvelil ( is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University. She has a joint appointment with the Lyman Briggs College (LBC) and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Dr. Cheruvelil's disciplinary expertise is as a freshwater ecologist who works collaboratively to better-understand what drives heterogeneity among lakes both across space and through time. She is also highly dedicated to scholarly teaching at MSU where she has been a Lilly Teaching Fellow, a STEM Gateway Fellow, and a recipient of a Teacher-Scholar Award. She conducts research on teaching and learning related to ecological literacy, evolution education, effective student teamwork, and ways to increase diversity in STEM. Dr. Cheruvelil is also very active in graduate student professional development, serving on the Steering Committee for the MSU Future Academic Scholars in Teaching Program and Directing the LBC Graduate Fellowship Program in the Scholarship of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning.