Personal Awareness

Group Work vs. Teamwork (Continued)

There is a tendency when completing team work for each student to go into isolation to work on a specific part of an assignment, often with no input from other team members. Towards the end of the assignment team members might quickly combine each member’s section of a document and then upload the assignment for a grade. In this instance, very little collaboration takes place and students can’t take advantage of the deep learning that often occurs in teams

The intention with RRU teamwork is for you to interact with all members of your team on various aspects of the assignment, collaboratively forming a consensus and working together towards a common goal. There is a shared understanding of roles, responsibilities and timeline. Team cohesion is established through common understanding of each team member’s role and research.

The chart demonstrates the differences and similarities of work groups and teams. As you build and develop your team, keep your focus on 'teams!'

Work GroupsTeams

Individual accountability

Individual and mutual accountability

Come together to share information and perspectives

Frequently come together for discussion, decision making, problem solving and planning

Focus on individual goals Focus on team goals
Produce individual work products Produce collective work products
Define individual roles, responsibilities, and tasks

Define individual roles, responsibilities, and tasks to help team do its work; often share and rotate them

Concern with one’s own outcome and challenges Concern with outcomes of everyone and challenges the team faces
Purpose, goals, approach to work shaped by one manager or leader Purpose, goals, approach to work shaped by team leader with team members, collective approach


Oakley, B., Felder, R., Brent, R. and Elhhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of Student-Centered Learning. Volume 2, No. 1. Pg. 9-34.