HOW CAN UNDERGRADUATES' READINESS FOR WORKING IN TEAMS BE IMPROVED?
Wu, M., Caspersz, D. and Skene, J., The University of Western Australia, Australia
Approximately 50% of Australian workplaces implement teams (Morehead, Steele, Alexander, Stephen, & Duffin, 1997). Hence, there is a pressing need for systematic development of leadership and teamwork skills in educational settings to enhance workforce readiness (Chen, Donahue, & Banks, 2000). The overall objective of this presentation aims to identify problems faced by undergraduates in managing team-based work. Prior team experience has been found to influence undergraduates' preference for team- based work (Eby & Dobbins, 1997). Undergraduates are often hesitant about participating in team projects. This is particularly at the beginning of team projects. This reluctance stems from the general complexity of working in teams. That is, working in teams embodies a complex web of attitudes, understandings and behaviours (Jacques, 1992). It is hypothesized that lack of student readiness for teamwork delimits performance in the early weeks of a team project. Given that a student team project only runs for 13 weeks (one semester), this can be a significant handicap affecting overall team performance and subsequent individual student satisfaction with the team process. Results are discussed in terms of managing social loafing and diversity.