Teaching Team Membership Skills: Using a ping pong ball in a specialized learning activity
As a result of participating in this activity, learners will:
- Demonstrate behaviors and qualities in the execution of a simple task as a member of a collaborative team.
- Test various models of feedback and accountability.
- Navigate conflicts that can arise on a team in a high-risk or high stress encounter through collaboration and innovation.
- Assemble students into teams of 5-6 using some method to ensure diversity/interprofessionalism on each team.
- Provide each student with a piece of corner molding. It is helpful if they come in varying lengths, with 10” to 15” pieces working well. The team’s task is to create a pathway for a ping-pong ball to roll safely from a starting point into a cup placed on the floor some distance away by moving from the front of the line to the back to make the track continuous.
- They may not touch the ball with their hands once it begins rolling. While the ball is on the learner's track, the learner must stand still. If the ball falls from the track, return to the beginning and start again.
- Variation: Remove a member of the team, but keep their track in play, with the same rules that the ball must pass over each piece of track at least once. (One player will end up holding two pieces.)
Have an ample supply of ping pong balls accessible to the leader, as learners are likely to make several attempts before they succeed in this activity. Additionally, you can elevate the difficulty of this task by continuously starting multiple balls down the same track.
EquipmentMinimal Equipment - Ping pong balls; corner molding pieces
Although we often speak about leaders on a team, we often fail to think about what it means to be a follower. Teams may function with rules or agreements that are poorly discussed, if they are discussed at all. In this activity is an opportunity for learners to reflect upon those behaviors other team members demonstrated that made it easier to participate.
- In this task, you were asked to function collaboratively as a team member. What behaviors did you see your team demonstrate that made this task easier for you?
- How did your team plan for your collaboration to complete this task?
- What do you think might have happened if the team had first talked about a strategy for completing the task, or perhaps had stopped in the middle of the task to ask what was working well and what needed to change?
- If you used the variation described above: What was it like to suddenly have to realign responsibilities on your team? How did it feel to the person(s) required to take on the extra burden? How did that impact the successes of your team? How might that be different with others attempting to compensate for the loss?
- On a patient care team, what does being the leader mean? How and why might leadership change? Should it?
- What does it mean to be a follower on a patient care team? Who are the followers?
- How desirable is it for all members of the patient care team have an equal voice in the treatment plan?
IPEC CompetencyRR 1, 2 & 5
CC 1, 4-6
TT 1, 3, 5 & 8
LessonAccountability and Feedback
Feedback, although often resented, can provide an opportunity for each team member to learn about how they contributed to team successes and how a specific behavior might have prevented the team’s success. Pay attention to how learners instruct, support, or criticize one another’s performance. It is helpful if teams hold a strategy meeting prior to attempting the task to establish expectations for team members.
- What sorts of feedback did you receive in the form of comments or directions from other team members? Was it helpful?
- What was your team’s strategy for completing this task? How clear was the strategy and what should team members do if there is not agreement about the approach?
- How did your team reach a common, shared vision of your task?
- When /if the team failed, to what do you attribute this? How did you or other team members contribute to that failure?
- Identify behaviors that you believe might have been supportive to team members who “dropped the ball.”
- Provide an example of when a healthcare team member drops the ball in the care of the patient. What was the impact on the patient? The provider?
- How do you give feedback to a team member who has dropped the patient care ball? How might you provide appropriate feedback to the patient/family?
- How can patient care errors be prevented by a team?
IPEC CompetencyVE 7 & 8
RR 2, 4 & 6
CC 1, 4-6
TT 2, 7 & 8
LessonWinning Outcomes through Collaboration and Innovation
Suggest alternatives to the team that foster cooperation and collaboration beyond individual efforts, such as allowing team members to have their hands on the end of the previous stick and matching it up with their own, designating a team member to stop the ball on their stick so that other team members could get repositioned, exchanging shorter pieces of track for longer ones, etc.
- On collaborative teams, each team member is mutually responsible and accountable for the team’s success. How did your team innovate while remaining within the stated rules to assist in the task?
- How did your team chose to move beyond conflict and possible failure? How did you keep going?
- At what point does the team give up on a team member who simply does not contribute to team successes?
The goal of patient care is to have the optimal outcome for the patient.
- Who decides what that outcome should be?
- How is the “best” outcome decided upon?
- What role does the patient/family play in deciding the outcome?
- How is opposition to the treatment plan by another provider resolved?
- What if the patient or family member opposes the decision?
IPEC CompetencyVE 6
RR 1, 2, 4 & 6
CC 1, 4 & 6
TT 5, 7-11
SummaryUtilizing inexpensive items (pieces of corner molding and a ping-pong ball) you can teach important lessons about membership on teams in an interactive, engaged-learner activity!
For more information about how to utilize games, low-fidelity simulation, and interactive learning to teach concepts of teamwork and collaboration, contact Better.Teams@rosalindfranklin.edu