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A team is a small group of people with complementary skills who
are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach
for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.
Although student teams may not satisfy all the requirements, the
degree to which they do often determines their effectiveness.
Decisions in Forming Teams
The first step in working with student teams in engineering courses
is forming teams. Although there are many issues connected to forming
teams, four will be highlighted.
for assignment: Who should select the teams?
- Team Size:
What issues are connected with selecting the size of the student
Composition: What attributes of the individuals should be
considered when composing student teams?
- Team Schedule:
How might the students' schedules be considered when forming teams?
One of the most challenging tasks that team of students faces
is finding a satisfactory meeting time.
Guidelines generated through inquiry into these issues will depend
on the team's purpose, the team's duration, and the students' maturity.
Although there are no set rules for the formation of student teams,
thoughtful consideration of these four issues will help provide
a better learning experience for the entire class.
Examples of Assigning Teams
Many faculty members throughout the Foundation Coalition have been
using student teams in their classes for several years. Each has
developed his own approach to assigning teams, partly based on published
research and partly based on his experience. Hopefully, actual examples
of how some faculty members have assigned teams will help others.
Example No. 1: Bill
Moor, Industrial Engineering, Arizona State University
Example No. 2: Jim
Morgan, Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University
Example No. 3:
Russ Pimmel, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of
Example No. 4: Susan
Voss, Donna Riley, and Borjana Mikic, Picker Engineering Program,
Example No. 5: Karl
Smith, Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota
- Katzenbach, J.R., and Smith, D.K., 1992. Wisdom
of Teams: Boston (Harvard Business School Press).
- Dipinto, V.M., and Turner, S.V., 1997. Students
and teacher as co-conspirators in learning. Current Iss. Mid.
Level Ed., 6:29-39.
- Feichtner, S.B., and Davis, E.A., 1984-85. Why
Some Groups Fail: A Survey of Students' Experiences with Learning
Groups. Organizat. Behav. Teaching Rev., 9:58-71.
- Brickell, J.L., Porter, D.B., Reynolds, M.F.,
and Cosgrave, R.D., 1994. Assigning students to groups for engineering
design projects: A comparison of five methods. J. Engr. Ed., 7:259-262.
- Davis, B.G., 1993. Tools
for Teaching: San Francisco (Jossey-Bass).
- Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., and Smith, K.A.,
1991. Cooperative Learning: Increasing College Faculty Instructional
Productivity. ASHE-FRIC Higher Ed. Rpt. 4. George Washington U.
- Felder, R.M., and Brent, R., 1994. Cooperative
Learning in Technical Courses: Procedures, Pitfalls, and Payoffs.
ERIC Doc. Reprod. Serv. Rpt. ED 377038.
- Brower, ??[Jeff: Need more info here]
- Kanter, E.M., 1977. Some effects of proportions
on group life: skewed sex ratios and responses in token women.
Am. J. Sociol., 82:965-990.
- Allmandinger, J., and Hackman, J.R., 1995.
The More the Better? Social Forces, 74:423-460.
- Cohen, L.L., and Swin, J.K., 1995. The Differential
Impact of Gender Ratios on Women and Men: Tokenism, Self-Confidence,
and Expectations. Personality Social Psych. Bull., 21:876-884.
- Steele, C.M., 1997. A Threat in the Air: How
Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity and Performance. Am. Psychologist,
- Haag, S.G., 2000. Teaming Backlash: Reframing
Female Engineering Students. Proceed., 2000 ASEE Conf.
- Kautman et. al., 2000. Accounting for Individual
Effort in Cooperative Learning Teams. J. Engineering Ed. 89:133-140
References for Further Information
- Bouton, C., and Garth R. (Eds.), 1983. Learning in Groups: San
- Bruffee, K., 1995. Sharing our Toys: Cooperative Learning versus
Collaborative Learning. Change.
- Cohen, E., 1972. Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous
Classroom: New York (Teacher's College Press).
- Cooper, J., et al., 1990. Cooperative Learning and College Instruction:
Effective Use of Student Learning Teams.
- Fisher, K., Rayner, S., and Belgard, W., 1995. Tips for Teams:
A Ready Reference for Solving Common Team Problems.
- Johnson, D.W., and Johnson, F.P., 2000. Joining Together: Group
Theory and Group Skills (7th ed.): Boston (Allyn and Bacon).
- Scholtes, P.R., et al., 1988. The Team Handbook: How to Use
Teams to Improve Quality: (Joiner Assoc.).
- Smith, K.A. 2000. Project management and teamwork. New York:
McGraw-Hill BEST series.
2001 Foundation Coalition. All rights reserved. Last modified