It is useful to document the team's expectations, so we require each team to create a team contract. The reason for such contracts is simple: if your team becomes dysfunctional, we want a document to which we can refer during team remediation that covers what you expect of your teammates.
A team contract template is available for download as a Google Document.
While the team contract is not graded per se, we do require you to submit it via the LMS. Furthermore, it will be reviewed by your TA and your instructor and you may be instructed to update or refine it if it is found to be insufficient.
Instructions and deadlines for submitting your team contract will be distributed via the LMS.
The instructors will expect you to live up to your team contract, so make it good.
Working in teams means learning in teams too; all work you do in life is also a chance to learn something new. To promote learning as a group, we expect team contracts to embody the following five tenets of cooperative learning.
Here are some of the questions your team contract must answer. You may add others as you see fit.
All the following examples are drawn directly from actual team contracts.
Example 1: Ensure everyone is unanimous with your ideas and thoughts, do not do things on your own without the consent of everyone in the team. Submit your part of the project on time, do not make everyone in the group even more stressed than they already are. If you have any problems with group members, please inform everyone in the group and we will try to sort things out. If problem persists, then we will approach instructors for help.
This was submitted as part of the RULES that a team set for themselves. While some teams may well be able to work with this set of rules, this approach won't work for everyone. Here are some possible variations.
Example 2: We will have a strike system that will take place when any defiance of rules or expectations occurs. Strike One would entail a verbal warning from the group members, reassuring the defiant that he/she must understand the implications of their actions and work towards not committing them again. Strike Two will take place when problems continue and the group is unable to solve it on their own and must proceed to notifying the teaching assistant. After which, if the defiant continues to cause even more problems that the TA is not able to resolve, the instructor of the course will be notified. This is the final strike, strike three which will be handled by the instructor.
While the “progressive consequences” (the “strike” system in this case) is baked into a number of social and judicial systems, this particular variant leaves a lot to be desired.
There's nothing wrong with this style of consequencing, but it has to be fleshed out enough to prevent misunderstandings and give everyone equitable opportunity to explain themselves and preserve openness of decision-making.
Example 3: The team’s goals for this project are as follows:
This is a very poor attempt to set goals, for the following reasons.
Example 4: We wish to develop and refine our communications skills.
This is another very weak goal:
Example 5: Participation: Equal contribution amongst all members.
Besides the questionable English, how exactly will “contribution” be measured? Number of pages written? Number of tasks completed? Number of hours spent on the project? Some combination of these?
It's entirely possible for different team members to have different ideas on what counts as contribution, and that such differences could lead to huge interpersonal problems later in the semester, which will in turn ruin your project.
There is no perfect, quantifiable measure of “contribution”. What if a team member contributes a single, highly innovative idea that results in an excellent design? What if that team member also is largely absent from meetings? How will you judge that team member's contribution?
Look at first page of hits of this Google search. See how many different ways there are to treat contribution?
In a case like this, take the time to decide as a team what “contribution” actually means to you, and then write a few sentences into the contract to capture that.
Furthermore, what does “equal” mean? Equality is also a very difficult concept, because equality often excludes individual diversity and can impact individuals' performance. Equity is a better concept to use; equity is balancing abilities with needs - one must set one's expectations of others in accordance with each person's abilities rather than using a universal standard.