6 2.3 Planning for Successful Teamwork

Tuckman suggested that teams move through stages in their life cycle:  forming, storming, norming, and performing.  At each stage, the group will work through a series of interpersonal tasks, as well as a series of project-related tasks.

Staircase graphic with task behaviours and interpersonal behaviours for Tuckman's Stages of team development: Forming:  establishing base level expectations  identifying similarities  agreeing on common goals Forming  making contact/bonding  developing trust  members are dependent; Storming:  identifying power and control issues  gaining skills in communication  identifying resources Storming  expressing differences of ideas, feelings and opinions  reacting to leadership  members independent/ counterdependent; Norming:  members agree about roles and processes for problem solving Norming  decisions are made through negotiation and consensus building;  achieving effective and satisfying results  members find solutions to problems using appropriate controls Performing  members work collaboratively  members care about each other  group establishes a unique identity
Image Credit: Alice Macpherson and Rawia Inaim

In the first section of this module, you explored the components of a Community of Inquiry. Both cognitive presence and social presence are required in the online learning community.  Tuckman’s model of team development also indicates that both components are needed.  In a class-based team, it may be easy to focus only on the cognitive output of the group — the creation of the project, paper, or presentation.  However, as you can observe from Tuckman’s model, a well-functioning team requires its members to exhibit social presence throughout, communicating well in interpersonal interactions.

In the days ahead, you will likely find yourself on a newly forming team in an online environment.  Consider the strategies you plan to use to demonstrate social presence and form a strong interpersonal foundation for your newly forming team.[1]


  1. Tuckman, B.W. (1965) ‘Developmental sequence in small groups’, Psychological Bulletin, 63, 384-399. Reprinted in Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal ,Number 3, Spring 2001

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