Manage Group Projects with Team Contracts

Having students complete assignments in teams can be problematic whether students are in an asynchronous or synchronous online class or an in-person class. Students often complain of team members that do not show up for meetings, contribute to the assignment right before the project is due, lack of participation, and team members that disappear. Creating a team contract will help students improve their experience working with others and help them to complete a successful assignment.

What is a team contact and why is using one important?

Team contracts are documents In which students will clearly define standards for the team as a whole and set specific expectations for each team member. Outlining clear expectations for the team and a projected plan for completing the assignment allows teams to be successful in self-managing and completing an assignment as a whole. In addition, this encourages collaboration and support among team members.

What Content Should be Presented in a Team Contract?

At the minimum team contacts should include:

  • Names and Contact Information: Each student should list their name and provide his or her contact information and preferred method of contact. 
  • Schedule: Students should present a master schedule of the work, team meetings, free times, and other mandatory weekly/daily obligations for each team member.  
  • Meeting Information: Students should give a description of how their team has decided to meet. Have students commit to the exact days/times/locations for meetings, so students don’t have to negotiate this later, and how and/or where they will meet. Have students define expectations and tasks that should be completed for team meetings. 
  • File-Sharing: In this section, students should address how their team prefers to share files with each other. List the method that your team will utilize (Google Docs, team discussion board in Moodle classroom, email, Slack, Google Drive, etc.).  
  • Action Plans: Students will present their group’s plan for completing the project.  Students should address how they will split the workload as a group in order to provide equal learning opportunities and create the best project possible. Students may consider issues such as:
    • How will you divide the work to ensure it is equitable?
    • How will you record what transpired at each meeting and attendance? Will someone be designated as the group secretary or will you rotate this duty? 
    • How and when will you evaluate each other’s work before it is placed into the final report?  
    • Will you work on all sections of the assignment individually and then discuss your results at team meetings; or will you do all work at meetings? 
    • Will you make all of your decisions and have all discussions at the team meetings? Will decisions and discussions be conducted electronically?
    • What is your proposed schedule to tackle the individual components of this project?
    • Will all team members review the final draft for errors before submission?  
    • How will you go about resolving group conflicts?
  • Task Required to Complete the Team Assignment: Students should give a bulleted list of specific tasks that their team needs to do to complete an assignment For example, this section may include research, surveys, drafting, etc.   
  • Assignment Schedule: Students should present a schedule or timeline to complete all tasks related to the assignment and produce a final draft of the assignment. 
  • Group Signatures: In order to be valid, each student should provide their written signature, with the date, at the bottom of the document.

You can adapt this team contact model to any team assignment for any course whether the class is an asynchronous or synchronous online course or a course that meets in person. Team contracts can be a low-stakes assignment or a high-stakes assignment depending on your learning objectives. Either approach allows students to set clear expectations for communication, participation, and contribution to help them create a successful assignment. 

Resources: 

Christine Cranford’s ENG 331 Team Contract Assignment

DELTA’s Teaching Resources: “Best Practices for Group Evaluation”

DELTA’s Teaching Resources: “Group Work in Google Apps

University of Waterloo, Student Success Office: “Working Effectively in Groups