STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

Active Learning Week Webinar: Working Toward More Equitable Team Dynamics: Mapping Student Assets to Minimize Stereotyping and Task Assignment Bias

Abstract: Today’s STEM students will enter a diverse workforce and need to be prepared to work with people of diverse backgrounds. Research shows diverse teams are better at innovating and solving STEM-related problems, precisely because there are a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds that are brought to bear in working on these issues (Philips, Liljenquist, Neale, 2010; Rock, Grant, and Grey 2016). However, this assumes those working on teams can take advantage of that diversity and are not hampered by racial, gender, and other forms of bias. Recent studies show that issues of bias and stereotyping on student teams is prominent, particularly in STEM fields (Wolfe, Powell, Schisserman, and Kirshon, 2016). This results in reduced learning opportunities for all students, with compounded harms to the self-efficacy and retention rates of female students, students of color, and other underserved populations. We have created a set modules and resources for WPI’s first year, project-based seminar program that attempt to help STEM students and faculty work through these issues with the goal of creating effective, equitable, inclusive teams and campus/classroom cultures. We are now piloting the use of these materials in other settings, including long and short term projects, labs, on- and off campus, and in technical and non-technical courses. In this webinar, we will share some of the issues our students are facing around bias and stereotyping on student teams students; we will detail how to use these tools, as well as their benefits and limitations.

This is an Active Learning Week sponsored webinar. Learn more about Active Learning Week, October 22-26th, and Take the Pledge to integrate more active learning into your classroom. 

Additional Resources provieded by Lisa Stoddard and Geoff Pfeifer:

Team Processing Sheet: students work through a set of questions to assess how the team is functioning in terms of equity and productivity. Questions include: Who talks the most? Makes the most decisions? Impacts for productivity? For feelings of equity?

Self Assessments on work style on teams, and associated communication and deadline agreement: students assess, and then discuss, how they tend to work on teams, and then create an agreement on team communication and

Asset-based cover sheet: team members divide work for each assignment based on assets