What is Experts in Teamwork (EiT) - questions and answers

What is Experts in Teamwork (EiT) - questions and answers

Here you can read about different topics, which together gives you an impression of what the students can expect to meet in EiT.


Interdisciplinary teamwork skills – what do the students learn in EiT?

In EiT, the students develop interdisciplinary teamwork skills.

The students will be part of an interdisciplinary team where they get an opportunity to sharpen their skills on major real-life challenges facing society. The aim is that students will take advantage of the interdisciplinary skills in their team to find solutions for a specific project. At the same time, as they work, they should take a metaperspective on how their cooperation in the project is functioning. In this way, they become aware of what it is that they are doing in the team that works well or badly. After reflecting on this, they can take concrete actions to improve their cooperation.

Some characteristics of what the students gain from EiT:

  • training in analysing a collaborative situation and in taking action for further development of project teamwork
  • training in how to give and receive constructive feedback
  • experience in taking advantage of the competence in an interdisciplinary team
  • an expanded perspective on their own academic competence
  • an expanded perspective on how the individual and others mutually affect each other in a cooperation
  • a greater understanding of the prerequisites for good interdisciplinary teamwork

Altogether, this contributes to the development of interdisciplinary teamwork skills.

«In EiT, the students' challenge will be to share their knowledge with others – using their own skills together with those of others to solve tasks as a team. In other words: EiT involves relational skills, the ability to work together and to bring out the best in each other. The modern world of work is looking for exactly these skills. Success in complex tasks depends on effective cooperation.»
Rector at NTNU, Gunnar Bovim

Experience-based learning and reflection - how is the course taught?

EiT uses an experience-based learning form, where students actively reflect on their own collaborative experiences through the semester.

All students have previous experience of teamwork, but they may not have reflected on the cooperation itself and analysed it. In reflection on teamwork in EiT, the students start from the experiences they have had in the project teamwork “here and now”; they describe what is happening in words and reflect on this. Why is it that some people talk more than others do? How does that affect the project work? How did we actually make the decision that we were going to work this way? How are we using each other’s skills to solve this problem? What can we do to prevent situations where we never manage to meet deadlines?

Interdisciplinary teamwork skills are thus learned through practice rather than in the lecture hall. This is because cooperation is something you do, and so you are exercising practical skills. Combined with increased knowledge of oneself and one’s own team in particular, and group theory in general, these skills provide competence that students bring with them into future collaboration.

For more information, see:

  • Facilitation – what do the fascilitators in EiT do? (see question below)
  • Writing reflections, feedback and teamwork exercises – why are these central activities in EiT? (see question below)
  • Experiences from former students

Project work - which projects can the student teams work on?

In EiT, each student team work together on a self-defined project, within the village theme.

At the start-up of the village, students get a presentation of the village theme – on real challenges and exciting problem areas within this theme. The presentation is given by the village supervisor and/or parties from working life or research environments with which the village works in partnership. After this, the students in each team themselves decide which project they want to work with, within the village theme.

Each member of the team contributes his or her own academic competence. Some of the team members might know something about the village theme already, while others can bring in new and exciting perspectives by applying knowledge and skills from their own field of study.

In EiT, the student teams are free to define the project they want to work with, related to the village theme. Some examples of what previous student teams have developed in EiT: feature/op-ed articles, books, investigations, technical aids, apps, board games, prototypes, courses, and performances.

For more information, see:

Facilitation - what does the facilitators in EiT do?

Each village has two facilitators (learning assistants) who stand outside the teams and observe them while they work. The facilitators share with the team what they see and hear from the teamwork process, so that the team has an opportunity to reflect on the input.

Here is an example of how this might take place:

Students on the team exchange different points of view and everyone is leaning forward. Suddenly, one of the students says:  “I think this discussion is completely different from the last time that we were discussing progress”.

Elsa is a facilitator and stands just outside the team observing them while they talk. She hears what they say and sees what they do. After a while, she goes up to the team and says: “I heard that Åse said that this discussion is different compared with the last time you discussed progress. What do you think about that?”

The student team starts talking together about what Elsa has said. Gabriella believes that there is much greater involvement in this dialogue compared with the previous one, and she thinks this is because they have become better at asking each other questions to include everyone. The other team members share their thoughts about the topic. Elsa has withdrawn to let the team reflect on the input themselves.

The facilitator does not share her assessment of the team’s cooperation with them. The facilitator draws the students’ attention to one aspect of their cooperation and the purpose of this is to give the students an opportunity to reflect on it. Thus, the team itself are the ones to assess what is going well in the cooperation, and how they might improve.

For more information, see:

Writing reflections, feedback and teamwork exercises - why are these central activities in EiT?

Writing reflections, giving and receiving feedback, and conducting interaction exercises are central activities in EiT. They create a basis for reflection on the cooperation in the student teams.

Writing reflections

Writing down your reflections regularly and honestly is very useful as part of the interdisciplinary development of teamwork skills. Individually, the members write down incidents from the day that have influenced them to some extent, and their thoughts on these incidents. This forms the basis for a common verbal reflection in the team, which ends up in writing a joint reflection. Writing reflections every day helps to preserve the thoughts and reactions that would otherwise have disappeared, and provides a fixed routine in the team’s reflection on their cooperation.

The daily team reflections form the basis for the team’s process report. Here, the students show how the team has developed, with some specific examples from their cooperation. The process report counts for 50 % of the final grade in the course.

Feedback

People who have spent a lot of time together see more about each other than they tell each other about. Conventions, fear of hurting others, and similar factors may cause people to keep quiet about their observations and assessments. However, awareness about how one is communicating and interacting is important for good teamwork, and feedback may help to increase understanding of oneself in interaction with others.

In EiT, students get training in giving and receiving feedback on each other in constructive ways. The feedback is directed at oneself, other team members, and the team as a whole. Our student survey shows that feedback is important for the students’ learning outcomes in the course.

Interaction exercises

The student teams in EiT will carry out several exercises during the semester. At the beginning, the exercises involve getting to know each other and each other’s academic competence. Over time, the purpose of the exercises will be to create a basis for reflection on different aspects of the teamwork, and to provide a safe setting for giving direct and honest feedback (mentioned above).

For more information, see:

Connection to working life and research communities - what role do they have in EiT?

Many villages in EiT have external partners.

These may include partners within the university (for example specific research communities or the environments around NTNU’s strategic research areas) or parties outside the university (for example firms from the private sector, organizations from the public sector and voluntary organizations).

The partners are linked with the villages throughout the semester. They help to shed light on the theme at the start-up of the village and have an ongoing dialogue with the student teams during their work. At the end of the semester, the student teams present the results to the external partners. 

Our cooperation with Experts in Teamwork has been a positive experience. The student teams’ projects give us an opportunity to gain fresh impulses and think from a different perspective, making us more conscious of our own activities.
Ole Oxhovd Svalesen, Project Manager Mot og Mestring [Courage and Mastery], the Church City Mission, Trondheim

For us, it was motivating that we had a real recipient of our project, and it was inspiring to work with a project that was actually useful to someone.
Student team in the village Urban cultivation – roof gardens in Trondheim

In some cases, when there is no established relationships with external partners, the student teams themselves contact one or more parties that they believe have an interest in their project.

For more information, see:

Attendance – when does the teaching take place?

EiT takes place in the spring semester. The timetable provides for work with EiT from 08:00 to 16:00 each village day, and students must be present (compulsory attendance). 

There are fice types of villages: intensive, semester-based, module based, virtual intensive and virtual semester-based. Teaching in intensive villages takes place from Monday to Friday for three weeks in January. This also applies to the virtual intensive villages.
Teaching in semester-based villages are held every Wednesday during the semester. 
Module based villages are only for students in the master's program Master of Education (MDID).  
In virtual semester-based villages the working hours are more flexible and there is mandatory online attendance for the students equivalent to 8 hours a week. This include: 

  • The village meetings ever Wednesday (time is stated in each village presentation) 
  • Weekly group meetings. Each team has a certain flexibility to schedule their meeting time every week  
  • Individual work between village meetings and group meetings  

In all three types of villages, students work together in teams for a total of 15 days. 

For more information, see:

Villages and village themes – what are they?

In EiT, students are divided into villages ("classes" of 25-30 students).

During each spring semester, NTNU offers about 105 villages, each with its unique village theme. The common factor is that all the village themes are linked with problem areas from society and working life. Students prioritize the five villages with themes they would most like to work with, and they are assigned a place in one of them.

In the village, the students are divided into smaller groups, normally of 5-6 people who work together throughout the semester. These student teams each define their own project related to the village theme. By applying their combined academic competence, they find answers to different problem formulations.

For more information, see:

Final reports and assessment – what do the student teams submit at the end of the semester?

At the end of the semester, each student team hands in two reports: a team process report and a project report. Each report counts for 50 % of the final grade in the course, and each student team is awarded one common grade.

The process report contains the students’ descriptions of specific situations from their own teamwork and their reflections on these afterwards. It also includes discussions of their own experiences in the light of theory and evaluation of actions that the team has taken to develop their own cooperation further.

In the project report, the students describe and discuss the project (the problem formulation, methods and results). In addition, they consider the benefits of the project to society and discuss how it could be taken further. They also assess how each team member has contributed his or her own academic competence and how each individual has gained a broader perspective of their own academic competence.

Together, the reports show how the students have developed interdisciplinary teamwork skills.

NTNU – how is the EiT course organized at the university?

EiT is a signature course of 7.5 credits at NTNU, which is compulsory for all students in master’s programmes and programmes of professional study. 

Every year, about 2700 students take the course. Students are divided into villages (classes), and with 2700 students this amounts to about 105 villages.

Each village has its own course code and can thus be regarded as a separate EiT course, but all the villages have a common course description and so in practice all the villages are the same course.

The Rector owns the course, and decides on the course description, while the Head of EiT is the lecturer responsible for all the villages. However, each village has a lecturer (the village supervisor) and two facilitators (learning assistants), who are jointly responsible for planning and implementing the teaching in the particular village.

All faculties at NTNU offer a number of villages.

Read more:

  • Villages and village themes – what are they? (see questions at the top of this page)

EiT brochure

Experts in Teamwork brochure

A brochure which presents EiT through statements and experiences from former students and people from business, government, voluntary organizations and academia. The brochure also presents a selection of projects from former EiT student groups.

Link to downloadable EiT brochure

(Downloadable pdf, 1721 kB)