Selecting a team

Successful teamwork in mathematical modelling depends both on team composition and on the quality of collaboration between team members. 

Modelling is a cyclic process involving different tasks in different stages (see the mathematical modelling framework).

It is important that all team members have knowledge that enables them to contribute (perhaps in different ways) to the substance of the mathematical modelling involved.

For example, if one or two individuals provide and argue for a particular mathematical approach, others need to supply critique, both of the correctness of the mathematics and of its relevance to the aspects of the modelling task for which it has been proposed.

Teams of students can collaborate by bringing complementary perspectives to paired problem-solving (one an initiator and the other a checker).

The evaluation stage in the modelling process is crucial: strong opinion, if not underpinned or resisted appropriately with mathematical argument, can derail the best of intentions.

A team will have more avenues to pursue if its members know more mathematics – but advanced mathematics alone will not produce a successful report. The team should also include members who know what is required of the modelling process, and who realise the importance of mathematics in industry, science, and life generally.