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In practice-oriented innovation and entrepreneurship courses a big part of the teaching is centered around group work. In order to ensure the quality of the overall course process and especially the students’ project work providing the best preconditions for the group work is therefore crucial. When the group work doesn’t function optimally:

  • The solutions are typically dealt with incompletely and cannot be explained in depth.
  • The students’ processes are ineffective, which affects decisions, learning outcomes and basis for development.
  • Furthermore, the common group work provides inadequate outcome for each of the individual students.

The conclusion is that a lack of ownership and a weak sense of responsibility cause too much work for a minority (and in certain cases the wrong individuals) and too little learning for the majority (von Stamm, 2008).

All students bring a history of good and bad experiences and some fundamental assumptions about how group work should be approached. This means that the group members have different working methods, motivations, ambitions and success criteria, which will affect their collaboration. The group work highly depends on the maturity of the group, which can evolve over time:

  1. The new group is characterized by insecurity, unclear goals, unclear roles, uncertain communication, difficulties with making demands and decisions.
  2. The young group is characterized by contentedness, overall objectives, individual visibility, elaborate communication, ad hoc confrontations, tends to evolve/close around itself.
  3. The mature group is characterized by trust, clearly defined goals, independence/dependence, clear communication (+ silence), meta reflective confrontations, ability to deal with intervention.

Please remember only few teams start off as being mature and effective teams.


When you are working with group work in your course you can use the description above as an introductory presentation for the students.

Then you can let the student teams do the following two exercises, where they are to collectively answer a number of questions regarding their expectations of the team work. The two exercises are also available (in Danish) in the DOWNLOADS menu.


In order to establish a basis for teamwork, the students collaboratively answer the following questions:

  • What have we got to do?
    The team defines the purpose or reason behind working collectively.
  • Who are we?
    Members know each other’s experiences, abilities, perspectives and commitment in fulfilling the mutual goal.
  • How are we going to do it?
    Members specify common ways of working and distributing work, communication and values.
  • What are we going to get out of it?
    Members have a collective responsibility for maintaining the balance between the aims of the task and the aims of the individuals.



In order to establish a basis for the joint project work, the students collaboratively discuss and agree on the following areas:

  • What is our project brief? (background, challenges, requirements)
  • What is the fundamental idea/products description?
  • What is the overall purpose of the idea?
  • What are our strategic values?
  • Which resources and competencies do we need in our team?
  • Working methods, social rules, communication and decision-making process of the team?
  • Task distribution and work processes of the team?

Not all questions can be answered at the beginning of the course and some may need to be adjusted and reassessed during the course. It is important to ensure time for this.

Worth Considering

  • If convenient make a poster with the answers and place it visibly in the group room/work station
  • Bring out the team basis and project basis and go over them regularly, for example at a morning meeting or at another group session (this might be facilitated by the teacher/supervisor).


If possible, do a short presentation/briefing about team collaboration based on the above or find inspiration in the examples of use.


Bettina von Stamm, Managing innovation, design and creativity, 2008 (2nd ed.).

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