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A Study on Ways to Improve Teamwork Satisfaction and Success

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The psychological construct that will be measured with the new scale is the participants’ satisfaction with teamwork in their previous group work experiences. It would be intended for enrolled college students of all ages and majors, in order to assess whether there is any benefit to assigning team projects to students, with the exception of preparing them for the workplace, in which team projects are used with increasing frequency. Additionally, it would help identify the aspects of team projects that students are least satisfied with, thus helping professors plan for those shortcomings in the future, and take measures in order to avoid them. Therefore, this measure would be used mostly in applied settings, such as college level courses that involve teamwork. It could lead to an improved classroom experience for the students taking the class, better workplace readiness, and, at the same time, decrease the stigma and negative feelings associated with team projects. The benefit of having college students as the intended population will be the fact that since they are still in the learning process for all the skills necessary for the workplace, it will be easier to form new habits and opinions, and equip the work environments with employees who are better prepared.

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Satisfaction with group work has been explored most often in Industrial/Organizational Psychology literature, and mostly in the workplace setting. The majority of articles define teamwork satisfaction as the complex and confusing relationship that students feel between the beneficial aspects of teamwork, like making new friends and being more efficient, and the sometimes disappointing process and overall execution of projects, e.g., the effects of social loafing, groupthink, etc. (French & Kotke, 2013). This construct has many dimensions that have been discussed, such as confidence with own abilities, willingness to work in teams (Smith, 1955), satisfaction with team interactions and team working process (Ku, Tseng, & Akarasriworn, 2013), conflict management, and willingness to work in teams in the future (Napier & Johnson, 2007). While these are all relevant dimensions, the current measure will focus on evaluating teamwork satisfaction by examining the contentedness with overall team achievement, perceptions of teammate helpfulness, satisfaction with the levels of communication within the team, opinions of peer reflections/evaluations, and overall openness to teamwork. These dimensions focus on the college student experience, and best fit the overall goal of evaluating what students are most dissatisfied with and finding solutions to those problems. `

Previously, the most comprehensive measure that had been developed for this construct was done by Therese Moen van Roosmalen, in which she built upon the measures for team effectiveness started by Burke, Salas, and Sims (2005) and their model of “the big five of teamwork”, which examined team effectiveness through “mutual performance monitoring, backup behaviour, adaptability, team leadership, team orientation, shared mental models, mutual trust and closed loop communication” (Roosmalen, 2012), as well as Hackman’s (1990) effective teamwork classification, which asked about “labelled team results, team survivability and individual satisfaction” (Roosmalen, 2012). The reliability of Roosmalen’s questionnaire exceeded 0.7, which proved the measure was consistent enough. Overall, her survey was effective in measuring what it needed, and had good psychometric properties. The only shortcoming that could be argued for is the fact that the questionnaire had 88 items, which would have been time consuming for the participants, and could have led to boredom and exhaustion, which would have, in turn, resulted in decreased participant effort and less honest answers.

The participants might have also been engaging in Socially Desirable Responding in order to avoid making themselves or their previous teammates look incompetent. There was also a notable prevalence of student teams as opposed to production or management teams, which would have led to the results best representing data only relevant to only college level teamwork, and not all-inclusive teamwork, as the questionnaire was intended to do. However, the representation issues could easily be solved by increasing the sample and having more varied participants, and does not have a significant impact on the survey’s validity or reliability, therefore still proving it to be a useful measure. Teamwork satisfaction has been measured in other academic works as well. Most measures combined some parts of Hackman’s classification and involved Likert scales.

However, every article had to develop their own measurement scale, as there has been no standardized way to evaluate teamwork satisfaction created so far. For example, Farh, Seo, and Tesluk’s (2012) study focused on observational teamwork effectiveness, rather than self-report surveys, which might have lead to inaccurate results through lack of attitude assessment, while Napier and Johnson (2007) adapted their survey from the Feller’s (1992) questionnaire and did not provide any information about the final survey’s reliability or validity. Therefore, it is important that a new measure be developed, one has excellent psychometric properties, adaptability, and reusability, in order to somewhat standardize the research completed on the subjects of teamwork and teamwork satisfaction. In general, while this construct has been measured in the past, it definitely calls for more research to be performed on it, as there have been extensive studies done on the effectiveness of teams, while attitudes and team-based learning opportunities have been neglected. The only aspect of teamwork satisfaction that previous studies cared about was what impact it had on performance, and while that is definitely important, more favourable outcomes could be achieved if the measure was perfected.

A comprehensive scale for teamwork satisfaction would help match the attitudes, behaviours, and cognitions of teamwork to the most effective strategies for improving both satisfaction, and, by extension, performance. It would also help create more approaches to effective teamwork, by identifying major issues and coming up with strategies on how to compensate for them. In short, it would improve the attitudes and opinions held about teamwork, facilitate the learning process for future projects, and improve overall team performance.

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