Forming Student Engineering Teams
 

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Definition

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[1]. 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.

  • Responsibility for assignment: Who should select the teams?
  • Team Size: What issues are connected with selecting the size of the student teams?
  • Team 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 Alabama

Example No. 4: Susan Voss, Donna Riley, and Borjana Mikic, Picker Engineering Program, Smith College

Example No. 5: Karl Smith, Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota

References Cited

  1. Katzenbach, J.R., and Smith, D.K., 1992. Wisdom of Teams: Boston (Harvard Business School Press).
  2. Dipinto, V.M., and Turner, S.V., 1997. Students and teacher as co-conspirators in learning. Current Iss. Mid. Level Ed., 6:29-39.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Davis, B.G., 1993. Tools for Teaching: San Francisco (Jossey-Bass).
  6. 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.
  7. Felder, R.M., and Brent, R., 1994. Cooperative Learning in Technical Courses: Procedures, Pitfalls, and Payoffs. ERIC Doc. Reprod. Serv. Rpt. ED 377038.
  8. Brower, ??[Jeff: Need more info here]
  9. 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.
  10. Allmandinger, J., and Hackman, J.R., 1995. The More the Better? Social Forces, 74:423-460.
  11. 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.
  12. Steele, C.M., 1997. A Threat in the Air: How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity and Performance. Am. Psychologist, 52:613-629.
  13. Haag, S.G., 2000. Teaming Backlash: Reframing Female Engineering Students. Proceed., 2000 ASEE Conf.
  14. Kautman et. al., 2000. Accounting for Individual Effort in Cooperative Learning Teams. J. Engineering Ed. 89:133-140

References for Further Information

  1. Bouton, C., and Garth R. (Eds.), 1983. Learning in Groups: San Francisco (Jossey-Bass).
  2. Bruffee, K., 1995. Sharing our Toys: Cooperative Learning versus Collaborative Learning. Change.
  3. Cohen, E., 1972. Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom: New York (Teacher's College Press).
  4. Cooper, J., et al., 1990. Cooperative Learning and College Instruction: Effective Use of Student Learning Teams.
  5. Fisher, K., Rayner, S., and Belgard, W., 1995. Tips for Teams: A Ready Reference for Solving Common Team Problems.
  6. Johnson, D.W., and Johnson, F.P., 2000. Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills (7th ed.): Boston (Allyn and Bacon).
  7. Scholtes, P.R., et al., 1988. The Team Handbook: How to Use Teams to Improve Quality: (Joiner Assoc.).
  8. Smith, K.A. 2000. Project management and teamwork. New York: McGraw-Hill BEST series.

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