Training to Be a (Team) Scientist



In the early twenty-first century, many have lamented the lack of a sufficient scientific workforce capable of contributing to the modern knowledge-intensive economy. At the same time, others have noted the lack of a scientific workforce capable of collaborating across scientific disciplines. The combination of these factors leads to a need to better prepare the scientific workforce for participation in the larger collaborative scientific enterprise and contribute to the needs of society more broadly. In this chapter, we focus on training and education where knowledge is diverse and members collaborate to address significant societal and scientific problems. We draw from a number of literatures to distill key ideas about teamwork competencies identified as being foundational to effectiveness for the scientific workforce.


Training Education Team competencies Teamwork Taskwork Collaborative problem solving Science of team science 



The writing of this paper was partially supported by Grant NNX16AO72G from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The views, opinions, and findings contained in this article are the authors and should not be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the University of Central Florida or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


  1. AACU. College learning for the new global century. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities; 2007.Google Scholar
  2. Asencio R, Carter DR, DeChurch LA, Zaccaro SJ, Fiore SM. Charting a course for collaboration: a multiteam perspective. Transl Behav Med. 2012;2(4):487–94.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Academy of Medical Sciences. Improving recognition of team science contributions in biomedical research careers. London (UK): Academy of Medical Sciences; 2016.. Scholar
  4. Barrows HS. Problem-based learning in medicine and beyond: a brief overview. In: Wilkerson L, Gijselaers WH, editors. New directions for teaching and learning, 1996(68). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers; 1996. p. 3–11.Google Scholar
  5. Bell BS, Tannenbaum SI, Ford JK, Noe RA, Kraiger K. 100 years of training and development research: what we know and where we should go. J Appl Psychol. 2017;102(3):305–25.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bezrukova K, et al. Do workgroup faultlines help or hurt? A moderated model of faultlines, team identification, and group performance. Organ Sci. 2009;20(1):35–50.Google Scholar
  7. Borner K, Contractor N, Falk-Krzesinski HJ, Fiore SM, Hall KL, Keyton J, et al. A multi-level systems perspective for the science of team science. Sci Transl Med. 2010;2(49):1–5.Google Scholar
  8. Borrego M, Newsander LK. Definitions of interdisciplinary research: toward graduate-level interdisciplinary learning outcomes. Rev High Educ. 2010;34(1):61–84.Google Scholar
  9. Bosque-Perez NA, et al. A pedagogical model for team-based, problem-focused interdisciplinary doctoral education. Bioscience. 2016;66(6):1–12.Google Scholar
  10. Bowers CA, Jentsch F, Salas E. Establishing aircrew competencies: a comprehensive approach for identifying CRM training needs. In: O’Neil HF, Andrews D, editors. Aircrew training and assessment. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum; 2000. p. 67–84.Google Scholar
  11. Brint SG, Turk-Bicakci L, Proctor K, Murphy SP. Expanding the social frame of knowledge: interdisciplinary, degree-granting fields in American colleges and universities, 1975–2000. Rev High Educ. 2009;32(2):155–83.Google Scholar
  12. Brown VA, Harris JA, Russell JY, editors. Tackling wicked problems through the transdisciplinary imagination. London (UK): Earthscan; 2010.Google Scholar
  13. Brozek J, Keys A. General aspects of interdisciplinary research in experimental human biology. Science. 1944;100:507–12.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Campbell DT. Ethnocentrism of disciplines and the fish-scale model of omniscience. In: Sherif M, Sherif CW, editors. Interdisciplinary relationships in the social sciences. Chicago, IL: Aldine Press; 1969. p. 328–48.Google Scholar
  15. Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS). Academic recognition of team science: how to optimize the Canadian academic system. Ottawa, ON: The Expert Panel on Academic Recognition of Team Science in Canada, CAHS; 2017.Google Scholar
  16. Cannon-Bowers JA, Tannenbaum SI, Salas E, Volpe CE. Defining team competencies and establishing team training requirements. In: Guzzo R, Salas E, editors. Team effectiveness and decision making in organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 1995. p. 333–80.Google Scholar
  17. Chang S, et al. Adapting postdoctoral training to interdisciplinary science in the 21st century: the cancer prevention fellowship program at the national cancer institute. Acad Med. 2005;80(3):261–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Crow MM, Dabars WB. Designing the new American university. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2015.Google Scholar
  19. Crow MM, Dabars WB. Restructuring research universities to advance interdisciplinary collaboration. In: Hall KL, Vogel AL, Croyle RT, editors. Strategies for team science success: handbook of evidence-based principles for cross-disciplinary science and practical lessons learned from health researchers. New York, NY: Springer; 2019.Google Scholar
  20. Cummings JN, Kiesler S. Collaborative research across disciplinary and institutional boundaries. Soc Stud Sci. 2005;35(5):703–22.Google Scholar
  21. Cunningham I. Are “skills” all there is to learning in organizations? The case for a broader framework. Development and Learning in Organizations. 2008;22(3):5–8.Google Scholar
  22. DeChurch LA, Marks MA. Leadership in multiteam systems. J Appl Psychol. 2006;91(2):311–29.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Dochy F, Segers M, Van den Bossche P, Gijbels D. Effects of problem-based learning: a meta-analysis. Learn Instr. 2003;13(5):533–68.Google Scholar
  24. Duderstadt JJ. A university for the 21st century. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press; 2000.Google Scholar
  25. Ericsson KA. Deliberate practice and the acquisition and maintenance of expert performance in medicine and related domains. Acad Med. 2004;79(10):S70–81.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Fiore SM. Interdisciplinarity as teamwork: how the science of teams can inform team science. Small Group Res. 2008;39(3):251–77.Google Scholar
  27. Fiore SM, Rosen MA, Smith-Jentsch KA, Salas E, Letsky M, Warner N. Toward an understanding of macrocognition in teams: predicting processes in complex collaborative contexts. Hum Factors. 2010;52(2):203–24.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Fiore SM, Bedwell W. Team Science Needs Teamwork Training. In: Presented at the Second Annual Science of Team Science Conference, Chicago, IL; 2011.Google Scholar
  29. Fiore SM. Overview of the science of team science. In: Presented at the National Research Council’s Planning Meeting on Interdisciplinary Science Teams, January 11, Washington, DC; 2013. Accessed May 2014.
  30. Fiore SM, Graesser A, Greiff S. Collaborative problem solving education for the 21st century workforce. Nat Hum Behav. 2018;2:367–9. Scholar
  31. Friesenhahn I, Beaudry C. The global state of young scientists–project report and recommendations. Berlin: Akademie Verlag; 2014.. Scholar
  32. Gabelica C, Fiore SM. What can training researchers gain from examination of methods for active-learning (PBL, TBL, and SBL). In: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. September 2013, 57(1):1,462-1,466. 2013.
  33. Gabelica C, Van den Bossche P, Fiore SM, Segers M, Gijselaers WH. Establishing team knowledge coordination from a learning perspective. Hum Perform. 2016;29(1):33–53.Google Scholar
  34. Gijselaers WH. Connecting problem-based practices with educational theory. New Dir Teach Learn. 1996;1996:13–21. Scholar
  35. Guise JM, Nagel JD, Regensteiner JG. Best practices and pearls in interdisciplinary mentoring from building interdisciplinary research careers in women’s health directors. J Women’s Health. 2012;21(11):1114–27.Google Scholar
  36. Guise JM, Winter S, Fiore SM, Regensteiner JG, Nagel J. Organizational and training factors that promote team science: a qualitative analysis and application of theory to the national institutes of health’s BIRCWH career development program. J Clin Transl Sci. 2017;1(2):101–7.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Gurtner A, Tschan F, Semmer NK, Nägele C. Getting groups to develop good strategies: effects of reflexivity interventions on team process, team performance, and shared mental models. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process. 2007;102(2):127–42.Google Scholar
  38. Hall KL, Feng AX, Moser RP, Stokols D, Taylor BK. Moving the science of team science forward: collaboration and creativity. Am J Prev Med. 2008;35(2):S243–9.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Hall KL, Vogel AL, Huang GC, Serrano KJ, Rice EL, Tsakraklides SP, Fiore SM. The Science of Team Science: a review of the empirical evidence and research gaps on collaboration in science. Am Psychol. 2018;73(4):532–48.Google Scholar
  40. Hart Research Associates. Falling short? College learning and career success. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities; 2015.Google Scholar
  41. Hirsch Hadorn G, et al., editors. Handbook of transdisciplinary research. Dordrecht (London): Springer; 2008. Scholar
  42. Hmelo-Silver CE. Problem-based learning: what and how do students learn? Educ Psychol Rev. 2004;16(3):235–66.Google Scholar
  43. Hohle BM, McInnis JK, Gates AC. The public health nurse as a member of the interdisciplinary team. Nurs Clin North Am. 1969;4(2):311–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Holt VC. Graduate education to facilitate interdisciplinary research collaboration: identifying individual competencies and developmental learning activities. In: Poster Session Presented at the Meeting of the SciTS 2013 Conference Session on Learning and Training for Team Science, Evanston, IL. 2013. Accessed May 2014.
  45. Holton G, Sonnert G. A vision of Jeffersonian science. Issues Sci Technol. 1999;16(1):61–5.Google Scholar
  46. Jacobson SR. A study of interprofessional collaboration. Nurs Outlook. 1974;22:751–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Karlin B, et al. The role of the university: engaged scholarship in the anthropocene. In: Matthew R, et al., editors. The social ecology of the anthropocene: continuity and change in global environmental politics. Hackensack (NJ): World Scientific Publishers; 2017.Google Scholar
  48. Kantrowitz TM. Development and construct validation of a measure of soft skills performance (Unpublished dissertation). Atlanta, GA: Georgia Institute of Technology; 2005.Google Scholar
  49. Klein JT. Interdisciplinarity: history, theory, and practice. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press; 1990.Google Scholar
  50. Klein JT. Crossing boundaries: knowledge, disciplinarities, and interdisciplinarities. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press; 1996.Google Scholar
  51. Klein JT. Creating interdisciplinary campus cultures: a model for strength and sustainability. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2010.Google Scholar
  52. Klein C, DeRouin RE, Salas E. Uncovering workplace interpersonal skills: a review, framework, and research agenda. In: Hodgkinson GP, Ford JK, editors. International review of industrial and organizational psychology, 21. New York: Wiley & Sons, Ltd.; 2006. p. 80–126.Google Scholar
  53. Klein JT, Falk-Krzesinski HJ. Interdisciplinary and collaborative work: framing promotion and tenure practices and policies. Res Policy. 2017;46(6):1055–61.Google Scholar
  54. Kraiger K, Ford JK, Salas E. Application of cognitive, skill-based, and affective theories of learning outcomes to new methods of training evaluation. J Appl Psychol. 1993;78(2):311–28.Google Scholar
  55. Lattuca LR, Knight D, Bergom I. Developing a measure of interdisciplinary competence. Int J Eng Educ. 2013a;29(3):726–39.Google Scholar
  56. Lattuca, L.R., Knight, D.B., Seifert, T., Reason RD, Liu Q. The influence of interdisciplinary undergraduate programs on learning outcomes. In: Presented at the 94th Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA. 2013b.Google Scholar
  57. Lavin MA, Reubling I, Banks R, Block L, Counte M, Furman G, Miller P, Reese C, Viehmann V, Holt J. Interdisciplinary health professional education: a historical review. Adv Health Sci Educ. 2001;6(1):25–47.Google Scholar
  58. Lupella RO. Postgraduate clinical training in speech pathology-audiology: experiences in an interdisciplinary medical setting. Am J Speech Lang Hearing Assoc. 1972;14(11):611–4.Google Scholar
  59. Marks MA, DeChurch LA, Mathieu JE, Panzer FJ, Alonso A. Teamwork in multiteam systems. J Appl Psychol. 2005;90(5):964–71.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Mathieu JE, Hollenbeck JR, van Knippenberg D, Ilgen DR. A century of work teams in the Journal of Applied Psychology. J Appl Psychol. 2017;102(3):452–67. Scholar
  61. Misra S, et al. Evaluating an interdisciplinary undergraduate training program in health promotion research. Am J Prev Med. 2009;36(4):358–65.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Misra S, Stokols D, Cheng L. The transdisciplinary orientation scale: Factor structure and relation to the integrative quality and scope of scientific publications. J Collab Healthcare Transl Med. 2015;3(2):1042.Google Scholar
  63. Mitrany M, Stokols D. Gauging the transdisciplinary qualities and outcomes of doctoral training programs. J Plan Educ Res. 2005;24(4):437–49.Google Scholar
  64. Nagel JD, Koch A, Guimond JM, Galvin S, Geller S. Building the women’s health research workforce: fostering interdisciplinary research approaches in women’s health. Global Adv Health Med. 2013;2(5):24–9.Google Scholar
  65. Nash JM. Transdisciplinary training: key components and prerequisites for success. Am J Prev Med. 2008;35(2):S133–40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Nash JM, Collins BN, Loughlin SE, Solbrig M, Harvey R, Krishnan-Sarin S, Unger J, Miner C, Rukstalis M, Shenassa E, Dube C, Spirito A. Training the transdisciplinary scientist: a general framework applied to tobacco use behavior. Nicotine Tobacco Res. 2003;5(Suppl. 1):S41–53.Google Scholar
  67. National Research Council. Facilitating interdisciplinary research. Committee on facilitating interdisciplinary research and committee on science, engineering, and public policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2005.Google Scholar
  68. National Research Council. Convergence: facilitating transdisciplinary integration of life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and beyond. Washington DC: The National Academies Press; 2014.Google Scholar
  69. National Research Council. Enhancing the effectiveness of team science. Washington DC: National Academies Press; 2015.Google Scholar
  70. National Research Council. Building America’s skilled technical workforce. Washington DC: The National Academies Press; 2017. Scholar
  71. Norman GR, Schmidt HG. Effectiveness of problem-based learning curricula: theory, practice and paper darts. Med Educ. 2000;34(9):721–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Nurius PS, Kemp SP. Individual level competencies for team collaboration with cross-disciplinary researchers and stakeholders. In: Hall KL, Vogel AL, Croyle RT, editors. Strategies for team science success: handbook of evidence-based principles for cross-disciplinary science and practical lessons learned from health researchers. New York, NY: Springer; 2019.Google Scholar
  73. Obstfeld D. Social networks, the tertius iungens orientation, and involvement in innovation. Adm Sci Q. 2005;50(1):100–30.Google Scholar
  74. OECD. Interdisciplinarity: problems of teaching and research in universities. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; 1972.Google Scholar
  75. O’Rourke M, Crowley SJ. Philosophical intervention and cross-disciplinary science: the story of the toolbox project. Synthese. 2013;190(11):1937–54.Google Scholar
  76. Ohland MW, Loughry ML, Woehr DJ, Bullard LG, Felder RM, Finelli CJ, Layton RA, Pomeranz HR, Schmucker DG. The comprehensive assessment of team member effectiveness: development of a behaviorally anchored rating scale for self- and peer evaluation. Acad Manag Learn Educ. 2012;11(4):609–30.. Scholar
  77. Olson JS, Olson GM. Working together apart: collaboration over the internet. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool Publishers; 2014.Google Scholar
  78. Olson GM, Zimmerman A, Bos N. Scientific collaboration on the internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 2008.Google Scholar
  79. Rentsch JR, Delise LA, Salas E, Letsky MP. Facilitating knowledge building in teams: can a new team training strategy help? Small Group Res. 2010;41(5):505–23.Google Scholar
  80. Rentsch JR, Delise LA, Mello AL, Staniewicz MJ. The integrative team knowledge building strategy in distributed problem-solving teams. Small Group Res. 2014;45(5):568–91.Google Scholar
  81. Repko AF, Szostak R, Buchberger MP. Introduction to interdisciplinary studies. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications; 2017.Google Scholar
  82. Rosenfield PL. The potential of transdisciplinary research for sustaining and extending linkages between the health and social sciences. Soc Sci Med. 1992;35(11):1343–57.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Salas E, Dickinson TL, Converse SA, Tannenbaum SI. Toward an understanding of team performance and training. In: Swezey RW, Salas E, editors. Teams: their training and performance. Norwood, NJ: Albex; 1992. p. 3–29.Google Scholar
  84. Schnapp LM, Rotschy L, Hall TE, Crowley S, O’Rourke M. How to talk to strangers: facilitating knowledge sharing within translational health teams with the toolbox dialogue method. Transl Behav Med. 2012;2(4):469–79.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  85. Stokes DE. Pasteur’s quadrant: basic science and technological innovation. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press; 1997.Google Scholar
  86. Stokols D. The future of interdisciplinarity in the School of Social Ecology. In: Paper Presented at the Social Ecology Associates Annual Awards Reception, School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine. 1998.
  87. Stokols D. Training the next generation of transdisciplinarians. In: O’Rourke M, Crowley S, Eigenbrode SD, Wulfhorst JD, editors. Enhancing communication and collaboration in interdisciplinary research. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications; 2014. p. 56–81.Google Scholar
  88. Stokols D. Social ecology in the digital age—solving complex problems in a globalized world. London, UK: Academic Press; 2018.Google Scholar
  89. Stokols D, Hall KL, Taylor BK, Moser RP. The science of team science: overview of the field and introduction to the supplement. Am J Prev Med. 2008;35(2):S77–89.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  90. Stokols D, Harvey R, Gress J, Fuqua J, Phillips K. In Vivo studies of transdisciplinary scientific collaboration: lessons learned and implications for active living research. Am J Prev Med. 2005;28(2S2):202–13.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  91. Sundstrom E, DeMeuse KP, Futrell D. Work teams: applications and effectiveness. Am Psychol. 1990;45(2):120–33.Google Scholar
  92. Swezey RW, Salas E, editors. Teams: their training and performance. Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing; 1992.Google Scholar
  93. Taggar S, Brown TC. Problem-solving team behaviors: development and validation of BOS and a hierarchical factor structure. Small Group Res. 2001;32(6):698–726.Google Scholar
  94. Van Ginkel W, Tindale RS, van Knippenberg D. Team reflexivity, development of shared task representations, and the use of distributed information in group decision making. Group Dyn Theory Res Pract. 2009;13(4):265–80.Google Scholar
  95. Vermunt JD, Verloop N. Congruence and friction between learning and teaching. Learn Instr. 1999;9(3):257–80.Google Scholar
  96. Vernon DT, Blake RL. Does problem-based learning work? A meta-analysis of evaluative research. Acad Med. 1993;68(7):550–63.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  97. Vogel AL, Feng A, Oh A, Hall KL, Stipelman BA, Stokols D, Okamoto J, Perna FM, Moser R, Nebeling L. Influence of a National Cancer Institute transdisciplinary research and training initiative on trainees’ transdisciplinary research competencies and scholarly productivity. Transl Behav Med. 2012;2(4):459–68.Google Scholar
  98. Vogel AL, Hall KL, Klein JT, Falk-Krzesinski HJ. Broadening our understanding of scientific work for the era of team science: implications for recognition and rewards. In: Hall KL, Vogel AL, Croyle RT, editors. Strategies for team science success: handbook of evidence-based principles for cross-disciplinary science and practical lessons learned from health researchers. New York, NY: Springer; 2019.Google Scholar
  99. Wittenbaum GM, Park ES. The collective preference for shared information. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2001;10(2):70–3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive SciencesDepartment of Philosophy, University of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.Cognitive Sciences LaboratoryInstitute for Simulation and Training, University of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  3. 3.Human Resources ManagementIÉSEG School of ManagementParisFrance
  4. 4.Department of Cognitive Science and Artificial IntelligenceTilburg UniversityTilburgNetherlands
  5. 5.Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy, and Department of Psychological Sciences, School of Social EcologyUniversity of California IrvineIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations