CS6: Breakdown


After a particularly challenging stint working on an ecological sustainability project in South America, your third year Environmental Studies students have had serious rifts in the group dynamic. In the final days of the project, a few of the students had a loud argument in the office of the local community partner. Similarly, some of the students have chosen to “work from home” (completing data entry on their laptops in the hostel) as a way to avoid working with the other students in the office. In a management meeting, the community partner expresses concern that the behavior of your students is affecting the local employees and other foreign volunteers on the project.

By the time you return to your home university, at least ½ of the students are not talking to each other. Other than the completion of a final report on the project, you have not planned any post-engagement reflective activities or team activities. However, the students are a cohort and will be moving into the 4th year of the Environmental Studies program together.


  • How do you manage the fallout from this team?
  • Has this become a situation in which it’s more work for the community partner to work with you than without you?
  • How are you communicating with the community partner and is your communication a model for the students?

Training & Education

  • If the teacher is on-site with the students, how are you managing the project if students are given permission to work from the hostel?
  • Was teamwork and group processes addressed in the course before you left for the country placement?
  • How much did you know about the day-to-day context of the project before taking the students?
  • What questions need to be answered by the community partner for you to have an understanding of the context and how it might impact student team dynamics?
  • What responsibility do you have as a colleague to try to heal the group dynamic?

Experiential Education

Project Phase: Experience and Return