Making Team Projects Work

A Resource for High School and College Educators

By Tim Franz and Lauren Vicker

Student companion guide coming soon!

Video Introduction to Our Book

Everything you need to know about Using Team Projects and Working in Teams Effectively. Contact us for professional development programs that are tailored to your needs. For information about speaking engagements, email us at MakingTeamProjectsWork@gmail.com

Buy our book here!

The Kindle version is only $4.99.

A key role of educators is preparing students for today’s world of work, where a top skill demanded by almost every employer is the ability to work together in teams. The book Making Team Projects Work will equip college professors and high school teachers with the tools needed to provide students with an understanding of what it takes to work successfully in teams. The authors are two college educators with decades of experience teaching group dynamics and using teamwork in their classes and consulting. In this book, they share their expertise so that novice and experienced educators alike can better plan, execute, and assess group projects. Topics include assigning students to project teams, developing a meaningful team task, creating leadership in student groups, managing conflict during a group project, communicating effectively as a group, and supporting teams in an online environment. The book is written in a conversational style and includes structured advice, examples, and worksheets to provide teachers with more confidence to run group projects in their classrooms across a wide range of subjects. This companion website offers additional resources and easy access to the authors who answer questions and provide consultation. This book is an invaluable resource that should be in the library of every educator.

Most Recent Blog Posts (Updated Regularly)

Tools for Teams Overview
Want all the tools in one place? This post provides a summary with links to each article.

Reaching Team Consensus
Wonder how to help your team reach consensus? Try these practical tips.

Problem-Solving Tools
Need a specific tool to help your team solve a problem? This post describes 5 tools that may help.

Problem-Solving Process
Ever wonder how a team should solve a problem? This post describes a standard process.

Improving Team Creativity
Need to solve a unique problem? Start with trying to improve your individual creativity and your team’s creativity.

See all of our past blog posts

Resources (Updated Regularly)

Chapter 1 of Our Book
Use this resource if you’d like a preview, or as a preread for some of our professional development session

Sample Peer Evaluation Form
This is a sample (jpg) of the peer evaluation form that is in our book

Survey for Forming Teams
In a blog post about how to form teams, we refer to a survey of expertise. This is an example that is relevant to psychology.

The Franz Group IQ Test
We use the Franz Group IQ Test as an icebreaker. You’ll find the test here in Word format so you may modify it as necessary.

Wilderness Survival Task
This is a link to one of the wilderness survival exercises, the Winter Survival Game.

Instructions: Franz Group IQ
This provides instructions for how to use, analyze, and explain the Franz Group IQ test as an icebreaker (and the answers!)

Survey to Assess Leadership
In some professional development sessions we’ve discussed how to use an online survey like this one to assess team membership and leadership

Videos and Podcasts

You may use these videos as brief lectures within your class. They cover certain content areas from our book, Making Team Projects Work!

DEI Expert Panel for TBLC 2021
Lauren hosted this Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion panel at the 2021 Team-Based Learning Collaborative Conference, March 4, 2021

Foundations of Teamwork for TBL
This presentation, for TBL Virtual 2021, talks about how teamswork is the foundation for TBL

tea for teaching Podcast
In this podcast, we discuss strategies to help students develop their teamwork skills while addressing complex problems.

How To: Peer Evaluation
Do you use peer evaluation? Have you ever taught your peer evaluators HOW to evaluate each other? Watch this video for ideas.

Better Team Presentations
In this video, Lauren gives 7 tips for students that will help them learn how to give better team presentations .

Endorsements FOR OUR BOOK

Steven Beebe, Regents’ and University Distinguished Professor, Texas State University: Placing students into groups is a classic instructional method.  Yet sometimes students and instructors need supplemental guidance to make group work successful rather than frustrating. If you use student group projects as an instructional method this is a must-have book.  This practical resource offers a wealth of information, tips, and instructional strategies to facilitate working and learning in small groups.  Highly recommended.

Michael Ginestre, Superintendent of Schools, Sherman Central School District: The adage “we are better together” rings true in every educational setting. Students learn best when they learn from each other. As a past teacher at the college and high school level, I often used group projects for two purposes: One, so students can blend their knowledge and past experiences to produce great work. And two, to teach students how to work collaboratively as a team knowing that this is a critical life skill needed to thrive in today’s global community. Now as a school administrator, I often observe teachers who employ team projects, but forget to establish guides and norms to help the team thrive. The authors of this book provide educators with a detailed guide on how students should collaborate to not only produce a project, but to learn critical life skills that can push the team to efficient new heights. This is a must read for teachers who want to get the very best out of their student teams. I highly recommend this book and will incorporate its practices in my district.

Ellen Monk, Professor, Lerner College of Business & Economics, University of Delaware: As a university professor in a large business school for the last 30 years, I know the value of group projects but have struggled with facilitating them well.  I welcome this book.  The authors have written a practical and concise treatment to enable group project success.  This helpful handbook is full of excellent examples of the challenges those of us with group projects face, and useful solutions to those challenges. I highly recommend this book to anyone teaching with group projects. 

Mike Palanski, Professor of Management at RIT and CEO of MPower2Lead: Tim and Lauren have provided a sorely-needed resource to educators who utilize team-based learning. Their research-based book addresses the big-picture process of team learning, as well as the nitty-gritty “tricks of the trade.” It’s full of examples, mini case studies, and practical assessments and activities. I will definitely be using it as a guide for my own teaching.

Amy Shannon, Assistant Principal, Victor High School: I can see this book being used with high school teachers. I especially like the scenarios and practical applications that this book offers. I can envision high school teachers using this book in a professional learning community to guide their practices. I also can see this book used as a reference material – it’s accessible and a quick read with valuable insight and perspectives uncovered. Offering a structured approach to group work would be particularly helpful for teachers.

Tom Proietti, Resident Media Scholar, St. John Fisher College: For teachers/professors, this is the book that has been missing from your shelves! MAKING TEAM PROJECTS WORK answers those questions you have had and many you have not even raised on how to improve group/team projects and processes.  The authors provide angles from both small group communication and psychology to lay out the best paths. Highly readable and intensely practical, this book offers practical suggestions, guidelines, and tips on making the most of group learning.  I highly recommend this text as a guide and an upgrade to your approach to teaching.

Contact us at MakingTeamProjectsWork@gmail.com

Copyright © 2021 by Timothy M. Franz & Lauren A. Vicker

All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction in part or in whole in any form (paper or electronic) is prohibited other than the following: 1) You may print, download, and/or modify any of the worksheets in this book or on the associated website for your personal teaching and non-commercial use only; and 2) You may print, download, and/or modify any of the exercises in this book or on the associated website for your personal teaching and non-commercial use only. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit any of the content of the book or from the associated website other than the use of brief quotations for use in a review or scholarly journal.