Project Title: Examining the conversational contributions used by students during team meetings.

Primary Researcher: Sam Farley (email: s.j.farley@sheffield.ac.uk).

Department: Management School, University of Sheffield.

Department Contact: Rebecca Roberts (email: r.e.roberts@sheffield.ac.uk).

Invitation: You are invited to participate in a study on the conversational contributions used in Engineering You’re Hired team meetings:

We have developed a method of recording the conversational contributions used by team members into 15 different categories of behaviour, examples include ‘Bringing In’, ‘Proposing’ and ‘Building’. The aim of our study is to determine how giving teams and individuals feedback on their conversational contributions influences effective teamwork.
If you choose to participate, an ‘observer’ will categorise each team member’s conversational contributions during your Engineering You’re Hired (EYH) team meetings. Observers will be post-graduate students, who will sit in on all of your meetings during Monday, Tuesday and Thursday to record conversational contributions on an iPad app.

What will happen:

If nobody in your team opts-out of the study, a postgraduate observer will introduce themselves to you on the first day of the EYH challenge and give you an opportunity to ask questions.
Your team will then be allocated to one of three research conditions, the condition you’re assigned to will affect what happens during the challenge:

  • One condition will not receive any feedback or video explanation on their conversational contributions (until after the week is over).
  • Another condition will receive video explanation on their conversational contributions and will participate in tasks designed to improve teamworking ability, but participants in this condition will only receive peer feedback and not observer feedback (until after the week is over).
  • A final condition will receive both video explanation and immediate peer & observer feedback on their conversational contributions, they will also take part in tasks designed to improve teamworking ability. If you are in this condition, details on your behavioural contributions may be emailed to you.

PLEASE NOTE: When you receive your feedback, you will be able to see how many behavioural contributions you made in each meeting, and you will also be able to compare this with the contributions made by others in your team. This means that your behavioural data will be seen by your teammates. We would also like to send your data straight to your email address which will involve storing your email, name and ucard number on a secure ‘cloud’ network.

At the end of each day, team members in every condition will be asked to complete a short worksheet, which will include questions on how you feel your team is working. In order to correlate your team behavioural data with demographic data (such as gender, first language and team performance), we also request permission to access your student records. Please note that your data will remain confidential to the study researchers.

Participants’ Rights

  • You are free to withdraw from the study at any time if you feel uncomfortable being observed (this will not involve you withdrawing, but instead the observer will stop coding and leave your meeting).
  • Should any members of the team decide they are not happy with being involved then the whole team will be withdrawn.
  • You are under no obligation to answer questions posed by the worksheets.
  • You are under no obligation to participate in the study.
  • You have the right to request that any data you have supplied be withdrawn at any point.
  • You have the right to have your questions about the procedures answered.

If you have any questions as a result of reading this information sheet, you should ask the primary researcher (Sam Farley – s.j.farley@sheffield.ac.uk).

Benefits and Risks:

  • Groups who participate will receive individualised feedback on their communication behaviour, which may help improve teamwork skills.
  • Groups who participate will get the chance to take part in a learning activity which is considered innovative by the University of Sheffield.

Confidentiality / Anonymity

Your name, email address and ucard number will be recorded by the observer to ensure that conversational contributions are applied to the right individual.

To protect confidentiality / anonymity we will keep the conversational and questionnaire data on a password protected computer for a period of 10 years and the research team will be the only people who have access to this data. Any information on your team meetings shared outside the research team will be anonymised to protect your identity.

Remember if you feel uncomfortable at any time, please inform the observer who will stop recording immediately and leave the meeting. If you need to discuss your participation in this study with someone, please contact Student Access to Mental Health Support (SAMHS) service (Tel: 0114 2223635, email: SAMHS@sheffield.ac.uk).