Training and Professional Development

Reflecting on Transdisciplinary Team Science Training

Dr. Stephen Fiore, University of Central Florida; Dr. Troy Hartley, College of William & Mary Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Dr. Linda Schaffner, College of William & Mary Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Dr. Karen McGlathery, University of Virginia; Dr. Deborah DiazGranados, Virginia Commonwealth University

Solving today's most challenging societal problems requires innovative, integrated breakthroughs and novel solutions that transcend individual disciplines, reaching a deeper level of knowledge integration. However, achieving such integration through team science is challenging due to the lack of adequate training to develop such outcomes.  This talk describes an approach and preliminary research findings from an NSF funded Innovations in Graduate Education grant awarded to the Virginia Sea Grant, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the University of Virginia, in collaboration with the University of Central Florida, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

We bring together a multi-disciplinary team of faculty coaches to guide a class of diverse doctoral and master's students from the natural and physical coastal, marine and environmental sciences, engineering, design, and social and economic sciences. A series of workshops has been developed to train students on the fundamentals of team science as well as collaborative knowledge building on complex transdisciplinary problems. These are integrated through an intervention focusing on reflection in teamwork processes.  Our aim is to introduce students to the principles of team science, collaborative problem solving, and effective self-reflective tools and strategies to improve teamwork. Further, by working closely with coastal community partners (e.g., municipalities, NGOs), this community-based climate-resilience project enables students to practice team science research and use reflective practices to improve their competencies with various stakeholders. Assessment of team processes, along with reflections on teamwork and taskwork will be used iteratively in order to highlight areas of collaboration needing improvement.

Our project is designed to improve understanding of how to nurture self-reflective competencies in the short-term and build capacity for team science research that will enhance students' careers over the long term. Specifically, our goals are to: (1) give a new generation of scientists and policy-makers the knowledge and critical skills they need to work together effectively to find solutions to complex coastal issues that are important to the citizens of Virginia, the nation, and coastal communities around the globe; (2) provide an opportunity for graduate students to work with stakeholders on complex interdisciplinary collaborative problem solving and learn how to work as a team across disciplines; and, (3) provide collaborative institutions an unprecedented opportunity to partner and bring together multi-disciplinary faculty teams to train students using innovative workshops focused on community-based coastal resilience issues. Initial findings from our workshops will be reported, including differences between reflections on teamwork and on taskwork, and the particular challenges graduate student participants faced when working on complex problems.

SciTS Presentation: Reflecting on Transdisciplinary Team Science Training


Evidence-based Team Development: Pre-post Assessment of Team Experiences with Team Coaching

Dr. Tony Lingham, Antioch University; Dr. Bonnie Richley, Interaction Science, LLC

Across the globe, with the increasingly complex and volatile work environment organizations are recognizing the importance of developing their leaders and employees to increase internal capacity to innovate and enhance performance. A major shift in structural design to meet this need is to incorporate teams across all levels of organizations. Despite this trend of becoming more team-oriented structurally, few programs focus on developing teams in their actual work environment although numerous offsite team-building programs exist. It is quite evident that in very recent articles, very few team training programs focus on developing teams in their organizational context with even less that provide evidence based training for teams. Today, many individual focused leadership-training programs exist to help develop individuals but evidence-based training programs to develop teams are still very much in its infantile stage. In a review of the training and development literature since 2000 show very little evidence based training and development at the team level. Based on extant literature it is clear that team training and development is crucial to organizations and this need inspired us to contribute to team training involving team assessment, team coaching and team development. As suggested by researchers and practitioners, our paper involves assessing experiences of teams in their work context; a structured team coaching process; and a longitudinal assessment to demonstrate evidence of team development. We used a longitudinal quantitative case study method to test the difference of teams’ assessments from Time1 and Time 2 and controlled for organizational culture variance by using teams that attended a leadership-training program that included team development. We present the team development program that we designed and delivered for a Midwestern university staff leadership training and present the findings from 64 teams that went through the 6-month program from 2009 to 2014. Fifty-four teams that went through the program and completed assessment over the two time periods and engaged in the team coaching process were used in this longitudinal case study. We tested six hypotheses of which three were supported, one partially supported and two not supported. Using paired t-tests, our major results show that the gap between the Desired and Actual Experiences in Time 2 is smaller than in Time 1 (Mean = -.11, p =.068) indicating team development; linear regression shows that this reduction in the gap does impact the internal evaluation from the team members (beta = -.31, r2 = .097, p<.05). We believe this study provides evidence that team development can be demonstrated and that further work could be done to contribute to this stream so as to meet the crucial need of team development in organizations and educational institutions.  We hope the design and results of this study would contribute to this stream of work by: 1) using an evidence based assessment so as to capture team experiences; 2) proposing a programmatic and approach to team coaching; and 3) showing evidence of team development from the team-training program.

SciTS Presentation: Evidence-Based Team Development: A 6-year pre-post assessment of team experiences with team coaching intervention


Developing Competencies for Team Science

Dr. Deborah DiazGranados, Virginia Commonwealth University; Dr. Heather Billings, Mayo Clinic; Dr. Allan Brasier, University of Wisconsin; Dr. Dan Lackland, Medical University of South Carolina; Dr. Wayne McCormack, University of Florida; Dr. Maritza Salazar, University of California, Irvine; Jennifer Sprecher, University of Washington; Dr. Beth Tigges, University of New Mexico; Dr. Kevin C. Wooten, University of Houston Clear Lake; Dr. Dayan Ranwala, Medical University of South Carolina; Dr. Gaetano Lotrecchiano, George Washington University

The promotion of team science in grant applications has been increasing over the last decade. One such example is the funding announcement for the clinical and translational science awards funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, standardization of competence, which is required to inform effective team science skills, is still lacking, particularly to guide training and development as well as evaluation efforts. While there is a plethora of research within the social sciences literature that can inform our understanding of team science effectiveness, the problem still remains in communicating a universal set of competencies that drives effective team science performance to stakeholders.

The value of defining competencies has been recognized (Shippmann, et al., 2000; Begg et al., 2014; Lotrecchiano and Misra, 2019). Specifically, the act of defining competencies will allow for the explicit recommendations for practice in the area of team science, which will clarify some of the vagueness that currently exists. With the specific charge by several funding agencies to “increase knowledge and awareness of what works best in team science” (PAR-18-940, NIH, there is an apparent need for clearer definitions of identified competencies. Moreover, our work in mapping the defined competencies to other relevant competencies (e.g., Translational, TL1 and KL2 competencies) will benefit educational and workforce development programs as they target the development of team science skills. It is our intent to disseminate the developed framework to the community who holds value in training and evaluating team science (i.e., INSciTS community).

This presentation will draw from the work of the Team Science Affinity work group, which has systematically identified competencies specific to team science applicable to clinical and translational teams as well as teams from other sectors. Our work is designed to inform training programs, funders, evaluators, and investigators about the competencies, which are crucial to engaging in collaborative team science. Specifically, our goals in this presentation are to: (1) identify observable distinct competencies that will result in effective collaborative team science, and (2) provide a framework which can inform training and development programs of faculty, students and research staff as well as the assessment efforts of team science competencies. The initial framework of competencies will be presented and discussed. Attendees of this session will be provided time to engage in discussion and debate about the presented framework.

SciTS Presentation: Developing Core Competencies for Team Science


Team Science Bootcamp:  Annual Trainings to Improve Team Performance

Dr. Brenda Zierler, University of Washington; Dr. Erin Blakeney, University of Washington; Ms. Jennifer Sprecher, University of Washington; Ms. Nicole Summerside, University of Washington

The Team Science Training Team (TSTT), a core group of the University of Washington’s (UW) Institute for Translational Health Sciences-ITHS (CTSA) offers an annual 1.5 day team science training “Bootcamp” to ITHS-affiliated research teams in the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI) region. The purpose of the Bootcamp is to improve team performance and productivity. Research teams affiliated with UW’s ITHS are invited to bring an interdisciplinary team to Seattle to participate in the 1.5 day training. The approach to the annual Bootcamp includes a baseline assessment of team composition, team structure, and team challenges. Prework requires all participants to complete a Personal Styles Inventory (PSI), the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), draft a Lean-based team project charter, and read an article “What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team.” Team size for the training ranges from 3 to 7 members and the registration is capped at 60. The teams must be interdisciplinary and all members of the research team are invited, regardless of role. The TSTT has been conducting team trainings for educators, healthcare teams, and students for more than 10 years at the UW. In 2018, we added research teams when the CTSAs were required to add team science in their grant applications.

We initially piloted the research team focused Bootcamp in February 2018 with ITHS program teams (n= 53 attendees comprising 14 teams). An online post-training survey found that 79% of participants indicated that the training moderately to greatly enhanced their knowledge of Lean-R and team science, 69% indicated that psychological safety in their teams improved.  70% of respondents indicated that they agreed or strongly agreed that the PSI and TKI were helpful in preparing for the Bootcamp. Survey comments included:  “I didn’t know anything about Team Science before this boot camp, & the knowledge gained was very helpful”; “It was a good use of time. I think it helped the overall ITHS team and our team got some new ideas." 

The overall objectives of the Bootcamp are to provide skills to manage their research projects, clarify team member roles, establish team processes, identify the value of working in teams and create awareness of what characterizes high performing teams, provide tools to increase team performance and the opportunity to apply tools real time, develop awareness of how PSI and mode for dealing with conflicts (TKI) affect team functioning. The TSTT utilizes interactive approaches to training including the use of Liberating Structures, and short didactic theory bursts followed by application of content.

The second annual Bootcamp with research teams will be held in February 2019 and we will share results and lessons learned from both the 2018 and 2019 trainings during the SciTS conference.  Our evaluation approach has changed and in addition to formative and summative evaluations of the overall content and approach, we will measure the impact of the team science training at 6 and 12 months after training on the team challenges identified by each team.

SciTS Presentation: Team Science Boot Camp: Annual Trainings to Improve Team Science Performance


Mastering Complex Communication

Dr. Katy Colbry, Michigan State University and Dr. Dirk Colbry, Michigan State University

This highly interactive workshop examines the leadership – and listening – skills that are essential to effective communication. You’ll learn about the components of complex communications and build skills for both leading and participating in problem-solving conversations. This engaging workshop will teach you how to reduce complexity and avoid confusion during technical conversations, and give you practical tools to increase understanding and foster strong working relationships. (This session is adapted from materials and resources developed with support from the National Science Foundation, Award #1730137.)

Participants will develop skills for improved communication during complex, technical conversations. Through interactive exercises, participants will learn and immediately practice communication techniques for reducing complexity, increasing understanding, and strengthening professional relationships. More specifically, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe attributes of effective communication
  2. Identify methods to improve communication skills
  3. Demonstrate speaker techniques to initiate a conversation and communicate a problem
  4. Demonstrate listener techniques for understanding and contributing to problem solving

Working effectively in interdisciplinary teams requires strong communication skills. Participants in this workshop will practice concrete communication skills in the context of problem-solving within interdisciplinary teams. The training covers both technical and interpersonal communication skills, and uses interactive rehearsal activities to provide the opportunity for participants to immediately practice the skills as they are learned.

SciTS Presentation: Mastering Complex Communication