Building a Strong Collaborative Team: Factors for Success

Tuesday 3:15pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room
Oral Presentation Part of Collaborating Across the Curriculum


Martha Murphy, Santa Rosa Junior College
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Sarah Fortner, Carleton College
The sustainability of humanity is dependent on managing geologic resources including: water, soil, and mineral resources. The InTeGrate Project addresses this through building earth literacy for undergraduates and through preparing undergraduates to work across disciplines to address earth resource challenges (Blockstein et al., 2012, others). Foundational to this project is the creation of teaching modules that are widely accessible to diverse institutions, that feature best teaching practices, and that support systems thinking and interdisciplinary connections. Modules are authored by instructors from diverse institutional settings, with several teams meeting collaborators through mutually identified interests. The authors for A Growing Concern: Sustaining Soil Resources through Local Decision Making are one such team. This presentation explores how this team operated, with particular attention to the factors that contributed to the success of the team and the benefits to the authors beyond the module development process.

Factors that contributed to the success of our team included: providing a strong project foundation by collaboratively developing the topic for the module; an initial in-person planning meeting, where the authors spent uninterrupted time together developing the main body of the module; establishing an aggressive timeline that realistically took into account other obligations of all authors; regularly scheduled conference calls with specific tasks for each author to complete prior to the next call; and the utilization of Google Drive to share resources and Google Docs to collaboratively develop materials in real time.

Innovation and sustained collaboration resulted from our work on InTeGrate including: establishing an effective workflow strategy, mutual respect, and understanding of individual strengths and interests. The strong working relationship that developed has facilitated opportunities for further collaboration, including conference presentations, a manuscript based on the module, and a grant proposal.