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[edit] Background

[edit] Life Skills

Unicef (2003)[1] defines life skills as psychosocial abilities for that give individuals the tools to deal effectively with the demands and challenges experienced within their life. Life skills are often organized into categories of skills: cognitive skills for analyzing and using information, personal skills for developing personal agency and managing oneself, and inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others.

[edit] Team Building

Team building is any group activity that helps with the development of cognitive skills, personal skills and inter-personal skills. Team building activities are used by many schools, teams and organizations to assist in the development team cohesion. Team building is relevant topic as it can help further adolescent life skills, such as confidence, communication and cooperation, which will benefit them in their transition to high school. When schools implement team building programs in and outside of the classroom, it enables the adolescence's abilities.

[edit] Goal Setting

The first step in working with any team is developing a coaching philosophy (Saavedra, 2013)[2]. It is key for teams to develop the qualities they expect from coaching staff, athletes and the overall environment in which they are in. Within developing team roles and expectations, it has been known to be efficient for teams to establish team goals. Widmeyer (1997)[3] recommends that goal specificity and difficulty may enhance the effectiveness of team goals. Therefore in order to achieve a sense of team building, it is suggested to be specific and set difficult goals as this significantly improves simple task performance.

Widmeyer (1997)[3] also believes it is important to set short-term as well as long-term goals. Short-term goals are crucial in order to allow athletes to focus on immediate targets and recognize immediate performance improvements. Long-term goals are demonstrated to be effective when the team needs to assess objectives that may require major improvements in order to achieve goals. Widmeyer (1997)[3] also discusses performance goals versus outcome goals which highlights the nature that despite an outstanding personal performance, an athlete or team may still lose to the opponent. He then goes on to compare and contrast team versus individual goals and how group goals enhance performance as effectively as individual goals.

Lastly, Widmeyer (1997)[3] encourages feedback on goal progress as studies have shown that this can lead to improvements on subsequent performance. Widmeyer (1997)[3] offers 6 principles for establishing a team goal setting program in athletic teams:

  • 1. Establish long term goals first
  • 2. Establish clear paths to the long term goals
  • 3. Involve all team members in establishing team goals
  • 4. Progress toward team goals should be monitored
  • 5. Rewarding team progress toward team goals
  • 6. Foster collective efficacy concerning team goal attainment

[edit] History

Physical activity has been seen as a tool to assist in team building for quite some time. In 1997, physical challenges in particular were used in a particular study called Effect of Participation in Team Building Activities on the Self-Concepts of Middle School Physical Education Students. Although further analyzed in the research section, this study calls upon an earlier book completed by Glover and Midura (1992)[4], Team Building Through Physical Challenges (TBPC). This program was the basis for some future studies, including Team Building Through Physical Challenges in Gender-Segregated and Student Self-conceptions. Glover and Midura (1992)[4] identified that as we gain self confidence from success in challenges, we will in turn feel better about ourselves and the abilities we obtain. They also identified that when an individuals helps in the success of a group accomplishing a goal, that person will feel accepted and appreciated as an important member of the team. Given that Glover and Midura TBPC program has impacted life skills, it is a notable part of history.

[edit] Target Audience

Team building crosses many bridges in terms of whom it benefits. Not only can it bring recreational sports teams together but can also be used within the professional workforce to benefit more than just the cohesiveness of a group. It is shown by Simmons, Blyth, Van Cleave and Bush (1979)[5] that adolescents nearing the age of high-school (age 13-15) go through major life changes and role-transitions that coincide with periods of significant physiological change. These physiological and physical changes that young adolescent experience can often times lead to lower self-esteem and body image which can be thought to reflect in their social interactions and ultimately their life skills (Simmons, Blyth, Van Cleave and Bush, 1979)[5]. In this fragile period, team building can be used as a crucial tool in helping young-adults feel more comfortable and confident in not only themselves but also in the new environments they are placed. Implementing team building activities and engaging pre-teens in team building programs at such a critical time of growth has potential to improve life skills and prepare them for their future adulthood. For these reasons we will discuss team building with a focus on preteen adolescence.

[edit] Research

[edit] Team Building Through Physical Challenges

This book, written by Donald Glover and Daniel Midura, is a step-by-step look on how to use team-building physical activities to promote cooperation and cohesiveness in any group. The book is directed at physical education specifically but the content can be transferred and used in many group or team environments. The content includes chapters devoted to developing teamwork, warming up to team building, introductory challenges, intermediate challenges and advanced challenges (Glover & Midura, 1992)[4] . An existing theme through the book is to improve self-image of students though physical challenges, giving them the joy of individual success while emphasizing the group accomplishing a task by helping and depending on one another (1992)[4]. Overall this book proves to be a great tool for not only physical educators but all educators or leaders hoping to bring a group together to achieve more personal and team success. This book and its practices have also been reviewed and used in many studies in this field. In fact some of the following studies are based off using ‘Team Building Through Physical Challenges’ activities in hopes to determine if in fact they are as beneficial as believed and how versatile they are.

[edit] Effect of Participation in Team Building Activities on the Self-Concepts of Middle School Physical Education Students

This study was done to examine and determine the effectiveness of team building activities in physical education classes, regarding the improvement of the self-conceptions of middle school students. All the team building activities used in this study were drawn from “Team Building Through Physical Challenges” (Midura & Glover, 1992)[4]. The study involved 120 physical education student volunteers randomly selected from four classrooms in grade seven and eight. The students were then assigned to either the control group – no team building activities or experimental group – team building activities implemented by physical education teacher. Participants in both groups were immediately given a ‘Self-Perception Profile for Children’ (Harter, 1985)[6] survey to complete which would be used to assess six specific domains of their self-concepts. These domains included athletic competence, social competence, global self-worth, physical appearance, scholastic competence and behavioural conduct (Gibbons & Black, 1997)[7]. Over the next 5 months students in the experimental group would participate in team building activities run by their physical education teacher in addition to their regular lesson every day, while the control group proceeded with regular class lessons adhering to the curriculum. After the last class of 5 months of the study, participants were given the ‘Self-Perception Profile for Children’ (Harter, 1985)[6] survey once more to complete and submit back to the teacher. These profiles were then analysed and compared by pre- and post- experiment results and then to determine differences between the control and experimental group. The results of this study showed that the experimental group, who participated in the teambuilding physical activities reported higher self-perception scores than the control group in each domain (Gibbons & Black, 1997)[7]. There showed to be significant difference between the control and experimental group students in the domains of athletic competence, social acceptance, global self-worth and scholastic competence (Gibbons & Black, 1997)[7]. There was also no significant change from pre- to post- test scores in either groups in the domains of physical appearance or behavioural conduct (Gibbons & Black, 1997)[7]. These results show how beneficial teambuilding can be through physical activities. It not only gives opportunity for students to work together and develop teamwork but also develop their own life skills such as social acceptance, global self-worth and scholastic competence.

[edit] Team Building through Physical Challenges in Gender-Segregated Classes and Student Self-Conceptions

This study was performed to determine if the activities provided through Glover and Midura’s book ‘Team Building through Physical Challenges’ (1992)[4], are continuously as beneficial if applied in a gender-segregated physical education rather than co-educational, and perhaps if the positive results are increased due to the gender-separation. The study involved 127 female and 133 male middle school students who were divided into either treatment or control conditions. The study was looking at six different self-conceptions; global self-worth, perceived athletic competence, perceived social acceptance, perceived scholastic competence (solving problems), perceived behavioural conduct, and perceived physical appearance which were all assessed using a Self-Perception profile (Harter, 1985)[6] survey. The study run over a five month period where the student volunteers in the treatment condition would partake in a TBPC activity biweekly in their gender-segregated physical education classes on top of the curriculum and the control group would continue to do the regular curriculum given by the teacher (Gibbons & Ebbeck, 2011)[8].

After computing and extracting from the surveys and observations the study came to a few conclusions. The first being that both male and female participants increased in their post-intervention for global self-worth, perceived athletic competence and perceived social acceptance (Gibbons & Ebbeck, 2011)[8]. This shows that these three self-conceptions will improve in students who participate in the TBPC programs regardless of the gender-segregated or coeducational setting.The study also found that in general both female and male students in the gender-segregated classes equally benefit from the TBCP program, as both significantly improved in five of the six self-conceptions (Gibbons & Ebbeck, 2011)[8].These results further show how using physically-based team building activities can improve students’ life skills and self-conceptions in many different group dynamics.

Read more about the Team Building through Physical Challenges in Gender-Segregated Classes and Student Self-Conceptions Study

[edit] A Trust-Building Strategy to Reduce Adversarial Tension and Increase Learning in Case Pedagogy

In this paper the authors, Roger Gomes and Patricia Knowles, address a common issue that teachers face in the classroom when students fail to participate and resist the teachings. Gomes and Knowles introduce different strategies and procedures they recommend to use in the classroom environment to facilitate more involvement, attention, confidence and satisfaction from the students (2000)[9]. A goal in this paper displayed through these strategies is to motivate students to improve their own performance and that this is most optimal in a trust-building and risk reducing classroom environment. Elements of such a classroom include minimizing stress through information, structure, and team building as well as improving performance through self-defined objectives, modeling, nurturing student self-confidence and publicly rewarding excellence as acknowledged by peers (Gomes & Knowles, 2000)[9].

When elaborating on team building and how it can be used to reduce stress in the classroom, previous research is used to highlight the importance and effectiveness of this, stating, “cooperative learning where students are required to form teams (as opposed to unstructured learning where students are simply encouraged to cooperate) is related to better student performance” (Doughtery et al., 1995, p. 53)[10]. The paper then goes on to highlight different tactics to use when encouraging team bonding and building in the classroom, such as group assignments were each member has a specific goal or task, therefore giving students to succeed individually as well as being a integral part of something bigger (Gomes & Knowles, 2000)[9]. Another teambuilding tactic Gomes and Knowles mentioned was the responsibility of team members to “share the load” and that without each member’s participation, a team is weakened, the class as a whole learns less and all suffer as a result (2000)[9].

This paper is a great representation of how team-building exercises are transversal to many environments from the gymnasium to the traditional classroom. It also demonstrated that implementing different teambuilding activities can help students to develop essential skills needed to excel a variety of conducts.

See This Paper

[edit] Strong Girls: A Physical-Activity/Life-Skills Intervention for Girls Transitioning to Junior High

The purpose of this study, lead by Theresa Brown and Mary Fry was to provide a physical-activity and life skills/team-building intervention for elementary-grade girls making the transition to junior high (2011) [11]. The study, called ‘Strong Girls’, was in the form of a two-hour sessions run twice a week for 8 weeks with 20 girls roughly eleven years old. In each session the participants partake in physical activities, team building and life-skills activities designed to develop their fitness, positive thinking, confidence and social skills (Brown & Fry, 2011)[11]. The assessment of the program, progress of the girls and observations were taken from journals entries written by the ‘Strong Girls’ participants and the camp leaders after each two-hour session (Brown & Fry, 2011)[11]. This study focuses on developing strong life skills as Brown and Fry argue they are tools that are transferable to many areas of life (2011)[11] and can be physical, behavioral, or cognitive and are essential on the promotion of healthy child and adolescent development (World Health Organization, 1999) [12]. Although the 32 hour program was a very short period of time to observe dramatic or longitudinal change, Brown and Fry were convinced that the girls benefited and valued the program put forward based on journal entries (2011)[11]. Despite the time restraints their work suggests that rich and concentrated sessions designed to help girls develop positive life skills could be very influential and important (2011) [11]. In conclusion, introducing positive life skills through activities such as team building, particularly during times of transition, can enhance the overall quality of children’s lives (Brown & Fry, 2011)[11]. Brown and Fry mention that although this program was geared towards female girls entering into junior high, they would anticipate the same type of positive results with either gender in health and physical educational settings (2011)[11].

Read More On This Study

[edit] Existing Physical Activity Programs

[edit] YMCA Youth Teambuilding and Leadership Development

This program is designed to help enhance communication among the youth involved. The life skills that are focused on in this program are, problem solving with a group, trust, resolve conflict in a positive and productive way, and confidence.[13]This program also explores how groups interact and develop during the physical challenges and can be geared towards adolescent aged children. Using indoor and outdoor activities, this program gives participants the opportunities to learn skills that will enhance their ability to test, confront, or exceed their perceived mental and physical limitations.[13] One physical activity used in this program is rock climbing-it is used to develop trust among members of the group. Also,the YMCA believes in “Challenge by Choice.” This means that every child is encouraged to participate, however the level of participation is determined by the participant.[13] Forwardly, not making the individual uncomfortable with their level of skill. Therefore instilling confidence at each level of skill.

[edit] Camp Kawartha Teambuilding

This program is intended to develop positive communication and leadership within your group.[14]The life skills that are concentrated on in this program are, trust, setting and honouring goals, confidence, communication, problem solving, and cooperation with others.The programs/activities offered to the participants can be structured to suit the needs and the focus of each specific group.[14] Thusly, giving a personalized and specific goal setting activities to enhance your group performance. One physical activity used in this program is a high ropes course- it is used to establish trust among members of the team.

[edit] Western Mustangs Teambuilding

This is a pilot program hoping to encourage all participants to engage in activities that will help their groups thought process, and communication. This program is designed to assist in training and your group successes. Many life skills are approached during this program, these include, communication, inclusion, and trust.[15]It is hoped that through this program, individuals from the group will take real life skills away from these sessions.

[edit] High 5 Adventure Learning Centre: Team Building Outline

This program consists of “adventure activities”, and these activities develop skills which can be taken out of the program and incorporated into school, office and life situations.High 5 Adventure program, offers a half day program, a full day program, and more than one day programs.[16] The life skills that are approached in this program are, cooperation, trust, effective communication, commitment, and of course leadership.[16]Each session focuses on these life skills more in depth, dependent on the length of the session. Each program is customized to the group’s needs (ie. Age, experience, and skills that want to be focused on).[16] The life skills that are practiced throughout this program can be taken, and used to create healthier relationships among the people that experienced them. For a youth program, the focus is to enhance the life skills needed to transition in life, for example from elementary school to high school. The skills that are more focused on for a youth group is, developing a sense of purpose, social and leadership skills, and interpersonal skills.[16]This program is intended to enhance and develop skills that are critical to team work. One physical activity that is used in this program is a low-challenge activity course. It helps promote communication and trust within the group.[16]High five adventure also practices the philosophy of “Challenge by Choice” ,this means that the individual participates at a level they are comfortable, with encouragement.[16]

[edit] Summit Team Building

Summit team building has been offering their services for 15 years. Specializing in team building and development programs. Programs are offered all across North America.[17] This program offers a variety of different activities to focus on your group’s likes and skills. Depending on which activity you choose, your team will be put through a series of tasks, which focus and promote different life skills.Their program uses fun, adventure and social interaction approaches to develop these skills. This team building program also utilizes a high ropes course,among many other activities,to develop and enhance mutual support, trust and leadership among your group.[17]

[edit] Best Practice Activity Suggestions

[edit] Ropes Course

Goal setting among a group, can enhance the cohesiveness of a group and their productivity towards that goal. When given a goal to achieve it encourages members to communicate effectively and precisely, it also promotes leadership among members in the group, and finally it encourages trust and reliability among the members of the group.Widmeyer and Ducharme (1997) stated, “The processes of interaction may be the division of responsibilities or roles, sharing of ideas, effective communication and constructive resolution of conflicts. All of these aspects of group goal setting are necessary to fully understand the group goal-group behavior relationship."(98)[3] Teachers can offer a weekly challenge in which a group of students must work together to achieve the common goal. If schools could develop a trip to go to a ropes course, it would help develop all of these life skills,as it would be in teams, they would have a common goal to work towards, and it would be in friendly competition. Developing a common goal to work towards, can help practice the life skills needed to succeed not only in a group setting but as well in social settings, and business settings.

[edit] High School Retreat

The transition from elementary school to high school can be a very difficult one. If schools were to offer services in which the grade nines could be integrated into the school community swiftly, it could make the transition much easier and more enjoyable. By offering a program that engages the younger students with the older students, it would promote communication and social interactions between the grades, making the school atmosphere more comfortable for not only the younger grades, but the older grades as well. For example, offering a Leadership Camp where the older students are the group leaders engaging in physical activities with their group of younger students. It would also promote social skills which are needed when being a part of a diverse group. This opportunity would practice the life skills in which one will need going into different stages of their lives. For example, communication, leadership, reliability, and confidence.Glover and Midura (1992)stated, “Children will acquire physical, social, and psychological skills necessary for successful living if we allow them to work as a decision-making team that takes risks, makes decisions, succeeds, and, sometimes, fails”(4)[4].By allowing the students to par take in friendly competition and work in a group, it will allow them to develop many life skills.

[edit] Personality Inventory Network

When working with others it is inevitable that you will encounter people with differing personalities, opinions and beliefs. Skills used and developed in a group environment will help one understand how to approach and effectively manage people with these differing mind sets. The life skills that can help people manage these differing mind sets are, communication, learning to value others opinions, what is important to them versus what is important to you, and how their experiences can dictate their present beliefs. Implementing an activity in a classroom setting called personality inventory network, introduces adolescents to the differing opinions of others. Students would recieve a sheet, with options varying in different personality traits, they fill out which trait best describes them.[18] From this, they figure out what "colour" their personality is. Furthermore, the teacher sets up a power point which shows, what the different personality traits of the "colour" are, and tips to communicate and work with the different "colours".[18] If they are exposed to it a lot, they will develop the life skills that are needed to perform in a group and the skills needed to communicate and value other opinions from their own. Making them a valuable team member, and possible a great leader.

[edit] Rock Climbing

Trust is one of many life skills that are needed to be successful in both personal and working relationships. When building a successful group, trust is paramount between the members, it is also an integral part of any successful group partnership.McKnight and Chervany (2001)stated trust-related behaviour is defined as “means that a person voluntarily depends on another person with a feeling of relative security, even though negative consequences are possible”(34-35).[19] This being said, developing and enhancing the life skill of trust through team building activities, cannot only benefit the people within the group, but can help them carry out relationships later in life. This is why teachers should implement an annual trip to a rock climbing venue. Rock climbing can help develop trust, as the students that participate have to help hold their peer up in the harness. If students learn to trust each other by working with each other in a physical setting, it can develop their life skills and help them understand the concept of trust.

[edit] Volunteering

Volunteering is one way to practice working in a group setting. When one volunteers they can acquire many different life skills through their group efforts. This can include, responsibility, communication, leadership, trust, and reliability. It is a great way to determine one’s individual skills, and it is also a way to understand and apply these skills. If high schools implemented group volunteering,for example, going out in the community to help other, it would not only benefit the school, and the society around them, but the volunteers as well. This would encourage effective life skill practices, and willingness to assist in one’s community.

[edit] Future Directions

Team Building at School

Gymnastics Education

Grade 7 and 8 children are at a very influential age. Because of this, it is beneficial for schools to implement team building activities. Team building activities and skills don’t necessarily refer to just kids that play sports but rather, to all kids. Teaching kids to work together, to include everyone, and communicate effectively correlates with real world situations and are valuable life skills to learn. [20] Schools should have mandatory physical education class that involves team building activities rather than games such as dodgeball, floor hockey, etc. Those sorts of games can potentially promote exclusion, bullying/ intimidation, and opportunities for kids to feel embarrassed or ashamed at a lack of ability. Instead activates should promote attributes such as leadership, good communication skills, and inclusion.


Research has shown that team building activities can be successfully shifted from the playing field to the classroom (Gomes & Knowles, 2000)[9]. Activities that help promote teamwork and communication during physical activities can also be used in the class room to enhance learning.(Slavin,1978)[21]

[edit] External Links

For more information about YMCA Youth Teambuilding and Leadership Development, go to the following website:

For more information about Camp Kawartha Teambuilding, go to the following website:

For more information about High 5 Adventure Learning Centre: Team Building Outline, go to the following website:

For more information on Life Skills through Physical Education:

For more information and a look at Donald Glover and Daniel Midura's book, Team Building through Physical Challenge:

[edit] Notes and References

  1. Unicef, (2003). Life Skills. Retrieved from:
  2. Saavedra, L.K. (2013). Effective team building: The role of coaches. Strategies, 26(4), 3-6.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Widmeyer,N&Ducharme,K.(1997)Team Building Through Team Goal Setting.Journal of Applied Sport Psychology,9(1)98-110
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Midura, D., & Glover, D. (1992). Team Building through Physical Challenges. Windsor: Human Kinetics Publishers.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Simmons, R., Blyth, D., Van Cleave, E., Bush, D. (1979). Entry into early adolescence: the impact of school structure, puberty, and earl dating on self-esteem. American Sociological Review, 44(6), 948-967.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Harter, S. (1985). Manual for the Self-Perception Profile for Children. Denver: University of Denver.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Gibbons, S., & Black, K. (1997). Effect of participation in team building activities on the self-concepts of middle school physical education students. Avente, 3(1), 46-60.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Gibbons, S., & Ebbeck, V. (2011). Team building through physical challenges in gender-segregated classes and student self-conceptions. Journal of Experiential Education, 34(1), 71-86.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Gomes, R., & Knowles, P. (2000). A trust-building strategy to reduce adversarial tension and increase learning in case pedadody. Marketing Education Review, 10(2), 49-58.
  10. Dougherty, R., Bowen, C., Berger, T., Rees, W., Mellon, E., and Pulliam, E. (1995). Cooperative learning and enhanced communication: effect on student performance, retention, and attitudes in general chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 72(9), 53.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Brown, T., & Fry, M. (2011). Strong girls: a physical-activity/life-skills intervention for girls transitioning to junior high. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 2(2), 57-69.
  12. World Health Organization (1999). Partners in life skills education. Mental Health Promotion.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 YMCA. (2014).Youth Teambuilding and Leadership. Retrieved from
  14. 14.0 14.1 Camp Kawartha.(2014).Team Building. Retrieved from
  15. Western Mustangs. (n.d.).Team Building Program Request. Retrieved from
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 High Five Adventure Learning Center. (2012).Team Building Outline. Retrieved from
  17. 17.0 17.1 Summit Team Building. (n.d.).Team Building. Retrieved from
  18. 18.0 18.1 Cytec.Leadership Lunch and Learn.[PowerPoint Slides]Retrieved from Don Sorley CMA,Controller, CYTEC Canada Inc.
  19. McKnight, D.& Chervany, N. (2001). Trust and Distrust Definitions: One Bite at a Time. Computer Science,2246. 27-54
  20. Ministry of Education, (2005). Daily physical activity in schools
  21. Slavin, R. (1978). Using' student team-learning. the johns hopkins team learning project.
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