AOI | Learning Innovations

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Structured Team Collaboration Strategies

Team Learning

Team Learning is a strategy that primarily relies on small group interactions.  For each lesson, students prepare by reviewing content (reading, videos, etc.) prior to class. During class, students are arranged into purposeful groups and work together.  Implementing teams helps students acquire a sense of accountability, since they must be fully prepared when working with their group and promotes peer to peer learning.

Although implementing this strategy may take some time and patience for students to adjust, it is advantageous. Collaboration is student-centered, and therefore the instructor acts as a facilitator of learning processes. This requires some trust of process on the behalf of the instructor, but with carefully implemented strategies, student collaboration can easily and successfully be integrated into a course.

Now that WSU has moved from face-to-face instruction to a distance delivery environment, here are a few tips for adapting the team learning strategy to synchronous distance delivery: 

  • Provide clear expectations and instructions for each activity.
  • Use breakout rooms for teams to collaborate.
  • Give each team member a role. Check out ideas for roles.
  • As instructor, visit each room to observe progress and probe students with questions to check their understanding.
  • Consider using shared online documents (like OneDrive) for students to complete during the activity.
    • Allows the instructor to monitor team progress from the main Zoom room.
    • Keeps students accountable for completing the activity
    • Allows instructor to see where muddiest points may arise
    • Creates an achieve of the activity for students to reflect on later and to review other groups responses.
  • When returning to the main room, each group can share information, ask questions, and address misconceptions.
  • Check out these ideas for team activities to use in class.

Look for an upcoming tip on team learning in the asynchronous environment. 

References and Resources

This series of videos and teaching tips is presented by Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). We invite you to join the conversation. Share your tips and ask questions through this blog. If you would like these posts to be sent directly to your email each week, subscribe to the listserv by emailing

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact or request training on demand. You can also visit the Spark Faculty Innovation Studio in room 102 any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, during the academic year.