Optimising performance in educational teams : the effect of time perspective

Trueman, Jane A (2017) Optimising performance in educational teams : the effect of time perspective. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Although there have been many studies researching how time perspective factors influence the behaviour of individuals there has been little research to date studying how people with different time perspectives work together in teams, and whether team performance can be improved dependent on the combination of time perspectives of the individuals within the team. A mixed method design was used to study quantitatively whether there were any relationships between team performance in a higher educational setting and the time perspective factors of the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999), and qualitatively to see what participants felt about team work generally. It then examined whether there were any differences in these views between high and low scorers on two of the time perspective factors that were shown to be associated with team performance. Correlational studies were carried out with educational teams that worked together for three different time periods: the long-duration teams worked together over an academic year; the medium-duration teams worked together over 8-10 weeks within one academic semester; and the short-duration teams worked together on four tasks over a 30-45 minute time period. The results showed that there was a significant positive relationship with the Future factor and a significant negative relationship with the Present Fatalistic factor and improved performance in the long-duration task; a significant negative relationship with the Present Fatalistic factor and improved performance in the medium-duration task; and no significant relationships between any of the factors and performance in the short-duration task. These outcomes demonstrated that some aspects of time perspective can significantly influence team performance. These deep level demographics, however, are only apparent when the team works together for a sufficient length of time. The longer the team works together the greater the number of time perspective factors affect performance. As well as looking at the mean time perspective factor scores within the team, the variance between team members and the minimum and maximum scores were also analyzed to see if a team with diverse time perspective characteristics, or with just one person scoring particularly high or low in a factor, influenced the performance of the educational teams. In the long-duration team the more heterogeneous the team was in the Future factor the worse the team performed; the higher the minimum score in the Future factor the better the team performed. In the medium-duration teams the higher the maximum score on Present Fatalism the worse the team performance. A further study was carried out to demonstrate this relationship experimentally by placing participants into teams of high or low scorers on the Future and the Present Fatalism factors and noting their performance. Various problems were encountered that affected this research and so the results were somewhat unproductive. A qualitative thematic analysis study was undertaken in order to establish what twelve participants identified about having to take part compulsorily in educational team projects within a Higher Education module. Five themes were identified: team organization, which included the roles within the team, the individual within the team and the internal organization of the team; the leadership roles and responsibilities; the social support received from team membership; and the rewards and the disadvantages of being a team member. Following on from this, a descriptive analysis was carried out to explore the differences in how team work is seen between high and low scorers in both the Future factor and the Present Fatalistic factor. There were certain differences between the high and low scorers on the Present Fatalistic factor based around the type of teams mentioned, particularly with procrastinatory and confidence enhancement behaviours. Overall, this thesis provides evidence for the effect of the Future and Present Fatalism factors in affecting team performance, and knowledge and understanding of one’s team members’ time perspective should therefore be a consideration when placing people in educational teams for long and medium-duration team projects.

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