Biology labs often make use of student teams. However, some students resist working in teams, often based on poor experiences. Although instructors sometimes struggle with student teams, effective teams in biology labs are achievable. We increased student learning and satisfaction when working in research teams by (1) including in the syllabus a teamwork learning objective "to practice effective teamwork and team management, including modeling behaviors of inclusion and ethics, and using leadership skills to foster problem solving, team communication, conflict management, consensus building, and idea generation"; and (2) designing and implementing exercises that teach students the value of working in a team and how to be part of an effective student team (e.g., developing shared expectations, creating norms of behavior and team culture, and building awareness of the importance of team conflict and likely student responses to such conflict). We also used individual and team reflections on team functioning, following formal online team assessment. This article presents details about our curricular innovations as well as pretest and posttest data demonstrating student attitudes and beliefs regarding teamwork. We experienced improved student satisfaction and success in introductory biology lab courses, as well as reduced instructor guesswork and stress regarding student teams.
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Vol. 82 • No. 1