When creating teams for TBL lessons, it is important that teams composition (the team members within it) is balanced and diverse. Teams should include a mix of student strengths, backgrounds, and experiences.
Dr Jim Sibley presents a few simple techniques to create teams for Team-Based Learning.
However, an relatively new set of aspects to take into account for team formation that recently has been gaining importance are age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, education, marital status, language and physical appearance (Muheidat, Tawalbeh 2018).
When using such complex and diverse factors to create teams, it is important to provide students with tools to navigate potential conflicts that might arise. In other words, help students learn to bridge cultural differences when conducting their teamwork.
Ining T. Chao and Michael C. Pardy in a recent paper argue that classrooms are becoming culturally diverse, giving rise to new challenges and rewards for students learning on teams. Students from different cultures differ in their orientation to communication styles, time, power distance, collectivism and individualism, and task vs. relationship focus. These differences can result in conflict, and can also support success, if facilitated well.
In order for team to navigate through the complexities of cultural differences, students need to be aware (and supported) in reviewing and changing the rules of teamwork to respond to cultural diversity.
While there are no magical formulas on how to do this. But the authors suggest that students and faculty must work together to construct a rich culture of team-based learning in which everyone is valued. This is accomplish by probing and acting, and based on what our senses tell us and what information emerges, responding appropriately (Kurtz, & Snowden, 2003). In this way, teams and faculty co-create meaning, give shape to their work, and texture to their processes.