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Team Science Toolbox

The Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute Team Science Toolbox is designed to:

  • Tailor content to novices of team science
  • Provide ready access to practical, pertinent team knowledge that addresses specific and common team needs
  • Offer an array of team-based interventions throughout the team life cycle
  • Feature evidence-based team interventions supported by team research
  • Recommend team-based metrics to assess team processes, climate and effectiveness

Toolbox Template

Each item in this toolbox includes the following:

  • Brief definition/description
  • Why is this important?
  • Examples/samples
  • Tips for success
  • Further reading/resources

Jump to topic


Toolbox Organizational Structure

Team formation: Help to identify and select the right team members Expand answer
  • Team assembly
    • Searching for, identifying and selecting members for a team
  • Team composition
    • Selecting the right team members, the right number and the right combination of team members based on taskwork and teamwork competencies

See all team formation tools here

Team launch: Assist the team in getting off to a good start Expand answer
  • Kick-off meetings
    • First time a team meets (in-person or virtually); used to set the stage for future team interactions
  • Icebreakers
    • Activities that help team members get to know and feel comfortable with each other
  • Team ground rules
    • The parameters set and agreed upon by team members governing how meetings are conducted, how expectations and goals are communicated and how team members are expected to behave
  • Team goal-setting and goal evaluation
    • Team goal setting clarifies team objectives, purposes and what constitutes meaningful collective outcomes for the group
    • Team goal evaluation helps teams track progress on goals and determine whether and when team objectives have been accomplished
  • Team charters
    • Written document developed and agreed upon by team members that helps to jump-start a team by establishing how decisions will be made in the team, who will lead, how meetings will be conducted, expectations for member contributions, etc.

See all team launch tools here

Team maturation: Help teams to foster effective team dynamics Expand answer

Motivational/Affective/Attitude-Based Competencies

  • Cohesion
    • The extent to which members bond or strongly connect with each other and with the purpose of the team
  • Psychological safety
    • The shared expectation that members can ask questions, share ideas, be vulnerable and make mistakes without the fear of being punished or humiliated
  • Conflict resolution
    • The process by which a peaceful ending occurs between two or more individuals experiencing disagreement

Behavioral/Skill-Based Competencies

  • Vertical leadership
    • Provides direction and support to enable team members to successfully accomplish team goals
  • Shared leadership
    • Rather than relying on one person as in traditional, vertical leadership models, members may share or rotate leadership responsibilities
  • Team-building
    • Involves a set of strategies designed to help team members build camaraderie, develop more effective interpersonal interactions and form a cohesive team
  • Team meetings
    • Formal or informal blocks of time set aside to discuss and evaluate team progress
  • Team debriefs
    • Structured learning experiences that encourage team members to reflect on recent action that resulted in success or failure

See all team maturation tools here

Team assessment: Scale-based measures Expand answer

See all team assessment tools here


The construction of this toolbox was led by Dr. Susan Simkins (formerly Mohammed), Team Science Lead, in the Community and Collaboration Core of Penn State’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Graduate student Jason Williamson and undergraduate students Carri Rae Davis and Lauren Appolonia contributed to this project. Entries were also added by graduate students Cristina Gonzalez, Caroline Manning, Kayley Morris, David Schillinger, Qin Yin, and undergraduate Krina Patel.

The project described was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through Grant UL1 TR002014. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.