Preparing students for collaborative leadership in sustainability: Applications of using business-based professional assessments to develop interdisciplinary and service learning teams

Monday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms


Dave Gosselin, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Ronald J. Bonnstetter, Target Training International
Higher education is being confronted with a paradigm shift that is forcing it to collectively reexamine their ability to develop graduates who have relevant professional competencies. Collaboration and team work are competencies that are sought after by employers. The creation of effective collaboration is critical to developing the interdisciplinary linkages that are necessary to confront the many societal challenges posed by human activities and prepare today's students to meet future intellectual and workforce demands. To address the challenge of developing collaboration skills, the Environmental Studies (ES) program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) used backward curriculum design, multiple modalities of experiential learning and a reflective action research approach to develop collaboration and teamwork skills in undergraduate students. The ES program partnered with Target Training International Ltd. (TTI) to help student's create interdisciplinary teams. Through TTI's TriMetrix Assessment, the UNL-ES program is taking a page from the business world and partnering with it to help students understand themselves, adapt their behaviors to more effectively work in a team, and be introduced to the concept of assessments and their use in the professional world. These assessments played a positive role in the dynamics of each group, some more than others. The analyses of these data informed us about how to improve the use of the assessment output in class. Specifically, we can use these data as specific examples in debriefing future classes. We have also identified certain mixtures of behavioral styles and motivational drivers that may be problematic to group work. Many students have experienced team projects. However, most students have not explicitly had to learn about the factors that go into effective collaboration or they have never been explicitly explained to them. This is particularly the case with regards to processes of developing shared responsibility.