Making the Pieces Fit: A presentation tool for teaching team development and function, as well as the use of games in education.
As a result of participating in this activity, learners will:
- Recognize pieces of a child’s contour puzzle in an out-sized format being used as a teaching tool.
- Appraise the use of this tool in a smaller scale as a team-building activity.
- This activity is designed be used before an audience. Pieces of the puzzle are large-scale so that non-active participants can see and experience the struggles of making the puzzle pieces fit.
- Learners in this activity include the observers, and the debriefing will include both the active participants (assemblers) and the observers.
- The activity consists of giving a team the stack of puzzle pieces, and ask them to assemble the puzzle (the pieces of which should stick to the wall) to complete the puzzle as quickly as they can. Comments made by members of the assembly team may be broadcast for observers to hear to heighten the level of observer engagement.
To elevate the cognitive load in this exercise, consider short windows of time to complete the task. The tool for this presentation is a large scale children’s contour puzzle cut from a product such as foam board.
Active puzzle participants assemble the puzzle, which has been provided to them with all of the pieces’ surfaces facing in one direction. No piece needs to be flipped over to complete the puzzle. Observers may not coach the active assembly team.
- What went well?
- Assemblers: What were the challenges that you encountered in completing this puzzle?
- Assemblers: How much do you think the scale of this puzzle influenced your ability to solve it?
- Observers: What did you observe about team functioning? How did the team organize itself? Were there identifiable leaders, and if so, what made them stand out to you?
- As an observer, describe what you observed about team organization. Compare that to observations from actual team members.
- In a clinically-based setting, what happens to team members who have too little information (i.e. a poor history or physical)? How is this puzzle similar to that?
In this round, active puzzle participants will face two challenges: puzzle pieces are inconsistent in that front/back surfaces are mixed. Some of the pieces of this puzzle will need to be flipped over, revealing the opposite surface, to complete the puzzle. Keep in mind that this means the puzzle can be correctly put together with either side up, making the task very difficult because team members must also establish which side of the puzzle they are trying to work on.
- Assemblers: What challenges emerged in having the extra factor of some pieces being flipped over?
- Observers: What strategies did you notice being employed by this team in Round 2 that you hadn’t seen in Round 1?
- If you were going to cite one factor that you think would have most helped this team succeed, what would that be?
- How was this task like/unlike the need for a team to have a common vision– being on one page?
- What role did supporting another’s perception or viewpoint have in the successful completion of the puzzle?
- How might the chaos of this activity, caused by the lack of clarity about when puzzle pieces where face up or face down, be similar to situations in a clinical environment and patient care?
- What might the team have done utilizing a briefing meeting to optimize their own performance?
- Compare the importance of having big picture thinking in this activity and in the clinical rotation environment.
Variation 1: This is an optional round played only if an image has been drawn or adhered to the surface of the puzzle providing clues as to how the pieces interlock based on that image.
Variation 2: Do not allow speaking among assemblers during one round of this activity.
- Assemblers: How did having visual clues about adjacent pieces affect you and your ability to complete the puzzle?
- How is having information about other team members potentially helpful in the operation of a team?
- How could the image placed on the puzzle be used to create more learning opportunities?
- What role does clear communication have in aiding a team in completing its task?
- How is not being able to speak freely during this task like the creation of a culture in which questions are not welcomed?
Both of these variations are intended to alter the cognitive load of the exercise. Variation 1 provides more information to assemblers to complete the task, and may be contrasted in terms of working with additional clues versus having no clues at all. Variation 2 alters the communication of participants, who must now not only figure out how to do the puzzle as a team, but must also figure out how to communicate clearly under the constraint of silence.
Consider the possibility that elevating the cognitive load in Round Two may frustrate assemblers.
SummaryThis is a demonstration resource designed to be used in large audience formats. This mirrors a smaller, team-based activity employing children’s puzzles, and can be used to teach principles of games in education, including immediate experience and management of risk and consequences.
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