Addressing Procedural Conflict Issues

45 min



Competencies: Communication, Conflict Management, Operation & Collaboration

Learning Objectives

  1. Deploy effective communication strategies to manage collaboration and conflict within the team. 
  2. Observe and assess behaviors that contribute to team challenges, successes, and failures. 
  3. Devise a plan that manages team dynamics toward completing project goals.

Instructor Preparation

  1. Assign students to teams.
  2. Review instructions and the activity guide for The Living Building.
  3. If choosing the in-class option, review the timing for the class session.
  4. Distribute the activity guide (either as an in-class announcement or via Canvas) and set up an appropriate submission area on Canvas for the required deliverables.
  5. Prior to this unit, ensure that you have provided students with access to the conflict management style survey (Excel file) via Canvas.

Notes for Instructors

  • This unit was designed to fit into a 2000-level course and is part of the larger ETD curriculum. For more information about the overall ETD curricular structure, please fill out the How to Partner form.
  • Rubrics (in-class rubric, homework rubric) are included to help you evaluate the work that the students submit.

Outline & Timing

Option 1 (In Class)

1. Introduce the purpose of the day’s activity. (1 min)

Points to make:

  • If necessary, review relevant deadlines or expectations that you have about the project. 
  • Provide students with relevant announcements for the next class period since they will almost exclusively work in their groups today. 
  • Let the students know that today’s class will focus on understanding how conflicts can be managed in a team. As the students do this activity, they will reflect on how they have managed conflict in the past and will make a plan with their team that will be incorporated into their team contract.

2. Students read the “Acknowledging Conflict and Moving Forward” section of the activity guide individually. (5 min)

3. Begin steps of the activity guide.

Step 1: Complete Conflict Management Survey. (5 min)

  • Instruct students to open the Conflict Management Survey on Canvas.
  • Briefly explain what the survey is and summarize the conflict management styles.
  • Students individually complete surveys. You may wish to ask them to return the survey to you via Canvas.

Step 2: Discuss findings. (10 min)

  • Students sit with their groups, in circles.
  • One student should act as a note taker and track the group’s answers in a Word or Google doc (you can ask them to share this with you via Canvas).
  • Each student in the team should answer each question in turn, ensuring that all voices are heard.
  • Optional: You can ask students to report on question one and two to the class.

Step 3: Reflect on procedural conflict issues. (5 min)

  • Students answer the five questions individually.

Step 4: Discuss findings and update the team contract. (10 min)

  • Students discuss in their groups.
  • A different student should now act as note taker, updating the team contract based on the findings from the team discussion.

Step 5: Apply what was learned to a complex issue. (10 min)

  • Still in teams, students develop at least two actionable tasks about a complex issue that is specific to their team’s project. Students should add these tasks to their team contract.

4. Conclude class. (1 min)

  • Instruct students to share their updated contracts and reflections with you via Canvas.
  • Review homework and requirements for next class.

Option 2 (Homework)

1. Have students complete the Conflict Management Style Survey and submit this via Canvas.

2. Optional: Ask students to schedule an in-person or digital chat session with everyone on their team (that must be completed before this homework is due).

    1. Discuss their survey results and brainstorm conflict management styles that the team might employ based on this information.

3. Ask students to write a reflection in which they answer each question from Step 3 of the activity guide, providing at least one sentence responses to each question. Answers should be submitted via Canvas.

4. Ask students to open their team contract in Google docs and improve the following details based on their reflection:

    1. Individual responsibilities
    2. Scheduling and task completion priorities
    3. How to manage work quality expectations

5. Use the comments feature in Google docs to provide feedback about existing sections of the contract. Employ strategic language as recommended in the activity guide.

6. Using the same document students used to write their reflection in Step 3, ask students to write a reflection in which they identify an important issue or section of the project that their team should substantively discuss.

    1. Explain why they have identified this issue and make a game plan for how this section can move forward in a productive way.

7. Turn in via Canvas:

    1. Completed Conflict Management Style Survey
    2. Updated team contract
    3. Reflection from question three and question six (.doc or .docx)
    4. Rubrics are included to help you evaluate the work that the students submit.

Activity Appearance

  • This is not part of a defined ETD curriculum set but is intended to be part of fourth-year level classes.