Teaching in Teams: A Planning Guide for Successful Collaborations

Have you been approached about team teaching, but are nervous about the process of sharing a classroom with other instructors? Have you participated in a team-taught course, and want to learn new strategies to make it even more successful in its next iteration? Are you looking to learn more about the benefits of team teaching for both students and instructors? Are you curious about team teaching, but unsure of how to plan for, structure, or evaluate such a class?

Faculty team teaching a GSI colloquium in English

We welcome faculty and GSIs across campus to explore our newest Occasional Paper, Teaching in Teams: A Planning Guide for Successful Collaborations. Many team-taught courses seek to promote students’ development of higher-order thinking skills by enabling them to interact with instructors who have different sets of expertise and perspectives (Bacharach, Heck, & Dahlberg, 2008; Bierwert, 2011; Helms, Alvis, & Willis, 2005). And for instructors, team teaching enables instructors to encounter new content knowledge, as well as new perspectives on their own expertise (Bacharach et al., 2008; Plank, 2011; Shibley, 2006). As Dr. Laura Olsen (MCDB) shares:

Each instructor contributes unique ideas and teaching styles to the course, creating a more dynamic classroom environment. The expanded expertise that team teaching brings to a course also increases the intellectual and scholarly quality of the course. One person simply cannot be equally expert in all areas of a course. These benefits all make a good team-taught course more fun for the instructors and students too.

For instructors looking to explore team teaching, the Occasional Paper includes:

  • Different models of team teaching that can be adapted to fit a wide variety of disciplinary and curricular contexts.
  • A breakdown of common challenges in team teaching (differences in teaching philosophy, communication challenges, etc.) and strategies to plan and accomodate for these interactions.
  • Ways to measure the success of a team-taught course, both for student learning and instructor experience.
  • As an appendix, a useful questionnaire for members of a teaching team to take individually and discuss together, to set ground rules and standards for the shared teaching experience.

We are also happy to meet and consult with you directly about how team teaching might fit your course needs, or any of the strategies and research featured in the Occasional Paper. You can request a consultation through our website or call us at 734-764-0505.

Photo by: Martin Springborg