A Framework for Teaching Teamwork Skills from the Perspective of Geoscience Employers

Dr. Samuel Nyarko
Monday, April 26, 2021 · 1:00 pm

Geoscience employers in the past few years have emphasized the need to train the future workforce (students) in acquiring soft skills including teamwork. Despite these calls for students to be trained in teamwork, we do not yet know what teamwork qualities employers desire. This descriptive qualitative study identifies the teamwork skills competency that geoscience employers desire of students and the future workforce. Online focus group discussions (N=3) concentrated around teamwork attended by fifteen geoscience employers was used to collect data during the fall of 2020. The recorded focus group discussions were transcribed, coded and interpreted. Using Marks et al. (2001) teamwork taxonomy model, we generated three categories of teamwork skills relative to working in geoscience teams. First, transition skills described skills that promote team task evaluation and planning. Geoscience employers described skills related to the ability to set specific goals, share and delegate work, identify resources needed to do the work and setting boundaries in and around the team are among the desirable teamwork skills in the geosciences. Second, action skills described skills that directly impact accomplishment of team task. Geoscience employers in the focus group reported that skills such as independent problem solving, self-drive and motivation, coordination and mentoring are important for working in geoscience workforce teams. Third, interpersonal skills described skills that promote the management of human resource interactions in teams. Skills related to emotional intelligence, proactive verbal and written communication and management of team technical activities were described as desirable teamwork skills in the geosciences. Finally, a fourth category, teamwork ethics emerged from data analysis. Employers described that having ethical skills related to trust, integrity and humility are important to working in geoscience teams. We provide the first information on a range of desirable geoscience workforce teamwork skills that could help academic geoscience departments identify the gaps between what teamwork skills industries want and what students are lacking to enhance the training of these skills. We suggest an array of teaching implications including a model for teaching teamwork competencies in the geosciences.