The Behaviour in Teams (BiT) Project
The BiT project started in October 2015 in the Department of Psychology at the University of Sheffield, and is currently based in the University of Sheffield Management School.
The BiT project emerged from the increasing need for universities to change from knowledge-based learning to skills-based learning. In higher education, a high percentage of learning occurs by organising students to work in team assignments. Nevertheless, very few universities provide guidance about teamwork dynamics so that the students can make the most of working in teams. Given that employers are keen to hire graduates who are able to work in teams, these are important skills that students need to develop. Therefore, the BiT project provides interventions that are aimed at improving one of the main aspects of teamwork dynamics: communication skills.
In order to improve communication skills, the BiT team provides a team level intervention for students. This begins with a series of short video modules to explain to students how different verbal behaviours can impact the productivity and satisfaction of teams. The modules also allow students to practise the behaviours themselves. Once the students have gone through these modules as a team, a trained observer then attends the student team meetings and categorises the verbal behaviours of each student using common language behavioural categories (e.g. proposing ideas, disagreeing, giving task information). At the end of each meeting, the observer is then able to provide team members with feedback about the behaviours they used. Feedback enables team members to reflect on their use of different verbal behaviours, so that they can adjust their behaviour to the benefit of the team.