Collaborative writing is fast becoming an integral part of most college curriculums. Whether or not more knowledge is gained from team writing as opposed to individual writing is undetermined. Analyzing the team writing process and how it differs from the individual process may help us to better see the benefits. Let us compare prewriting activities like brainstorming and topic selection. Writing as an individual you can pick a topic you are most interested in or one that you would enjoy learning about.
As a team, you must consider everyone’s opinions. Each team member has to come up with a few ideas and present them to the team for discussion. Eventually, there would be a vote and a topic would be selected. In a team setting, it is best to select a leader. One person to help keep everything on task. In a team, you have several personalities and learning styles. “Personal conflict may arise because of agenda, status, power differences, lack of diplomacy, and sensitivity. ” (Colen, K. & Petelin, R. 2004) In an individual setting, you have only yourself to answer to.
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When brainstorming within a team you have several thought processes converging on one another at the same time. Each member does his or her own brainstorming and brings his or her ideas together. The team, as a whole, has to weed through all the ideas and settle on the ones best suited for the writing. In an individual brainstorming session the only ideas you come up with are your own. All you have to do is take your ideas and apply them to the paper you are writing. Another difference between team writing and individual writing is the revision process.
Each team member revises the work on his or her own, then the team can discuss the revisions as a group. From the individual revisions, the team will agree upon and implement the changes necessary. An individual revises his or her own writing; sometimes referring to outside sources for assistance. The team process is much more time consuming and stressful, but having several minds working towards one shared goal is more beneficial than the individual mind. Editing written team assignments deserves some attention. Oftentimes, editing team papers vs. individual papers can be overwhelming.
Most teams experience a member vanishing right when the paper needs editing or they are unreachable and just do not “show-up,” leaving the rest of the group to do the editing for them. When you are editing your own individual essay, you can move through the process at your own pace. You can edit periodically, as the paper is written, allowing for adequate changes. When working with teams, choosing an editor right from the start of the assignment can offset any potential controversy. Plagiarism is another facet of writing that differs from group to individual settings.
Whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is unacceptable in any academic writing. Students are aware of this very fact upon signing a formal application with any University. This policy appears in most school academic handbooks that are on most student websites. Students should rely on their own ability when writing and refrain from committing plagiarism. When forming teams, a line item should be included in the team charter addressing plagiarism. The Center for Writing Excellence or any automated engine that addresses potential plagiarism should follow as a precautionary measure.
There would be consequences if plagiarism were committed. The technique would be appropriate in all cases because plagiarism is unethical and forbidden. “More and more workplace activities involve project teams. Giving students opportunities to work collaboratively on academic projects can help prepare them for the advantages and pitfalls of collaborative work on the job. ” (WAC Clearinghouse) The more people included in a team, the more diversity; which causes conflict. Conflict should be resolved in a multitude of ways. The first step in resolving conflict throughout the team is to expose the source.
Many sources are available that include communication barriers and personal factors. The team must all be on the same page when writing any assignment. This means team members must put their personal differences aside. Any issues he or she is having at home keep them at bay and focus on the writing assignment the team must accomplish. When it comes to communication issues, things usually get out of hand quickly. The team does not make progress on the writing assignment when controversy is involved. Some ways to resolve communication barriers is to listen to your teammates ideas on the writing assignment.
Try sharing your ideas about the assignment with your team and figure out if members have the same interpretation and perception about the writing assignment. These techniques bring the team together, which result in the writing assignment getting accomplished. Proofreading written works in a team setting is more beneficial than as an individual. As a team there are several members reading and editing the paper. Each member uses whatever resources they have to proofread the writing. The fact that so many minds are focusing on corrections will ensure that every little error will be caught.
An individual is left to his or her own devices to proofread. In an individual situation you would have to use outside sources to aid in the proofreading process. Both team and individual proofreading processes contain outside sources; however, in a team setting you only have to look as far as the person next to you. During the writing process team identity must be developed. What is team identity? How can it be developed in the writing process? Team identity is the connection members feel to their team and the mission or purpose.
Team identity is easily developed in the writing process by team members building strong working relationships with each other. If all the team members are focused and have the same drive and goal to get the writing assignment done, then team identity is being developed without anyone focusing on developing it. The process is simple, especially when everyone is on the same page. What will the rules governing the team assignment be? Team members must decide early on in a team writing process how they will come together when they agree that a team paper is complete.
One option a team can incorporate could be the use of a team charter. This document, when taken seriously, is a formal enough agreement that it gets all the team members aware of the different categories involved with the specific team project. The team charter will indicate to each team member individual expectations and will address the completion task timeframes. All team members at the beginning of the project will sign the charter. A very specific entity to a charter that aligns the accomplishment of an assignment is a progress report (2008).
Each member will periodically address his or her task in writing. Individuals can then tailor the completion of the task based on the findings. Collaborating at the start of a team project on how they will achieve the result is important to the teams’ success. Practice is a strong teacher and as teams consciously seek opportunities to improve their collaborative writing skills they will find their audience stays active and interested. When teams take the time carefully to plan the essential elements to a good writing process they will also find their content is informative, persuasive, accurate, and memorable.
The skillful use of the tools discussed in this paper can help anyone on a team to achieve the results they are looking for. References (2008, October 15). Teaching team writing [(n. d. )]. Colen, K. & Petelin, R. (2004). Challenges in collaborative writing in the contemporay corporation. Corporate Communications, 9(2), 136-145. Retrieved by EBSCohost on October 15, 2008. Townsley, C. A. , RV Armstrong and Associates http://wac. colostate. edu/intro/pop2l. cfm http://www. innovativeteambuilding. co. uk/pages/articles/conflicts. htm http://www. sba. muohio. edu/hwi/teamwriting. htm