June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.112.1 - 26.112.13
A Student-Led Approach to Teamwork in Engineering PresentationsAt an engineering college, a first-year required course has been a core part of the curriculum formany years. As part of this course, student teams are expected to solve one of the eight semester-long projects by the end of the semester. For many years, non-completion of projects orpersonality problems was rare – perhaps one out of a hundred teams per semester. However, inFall 2013 we had 15 cases of non-completion and Spring 2014 had 11 cases. In our opinion, the higher rate of non-completion was mostly due to current studentshaving difficulties with communicating face-to-face; the skill set required to discus how tojointly do their projects is sorely lacking in today’s undergraduates. Today’s students do notrealize that engineering is accomplished by teams and do not recognize that their team projectsare in trouble until it is too late. Even when they realize there is a problem, they think that it is afailure of their teammates rather than for the team to function effectively. At last year’s ASEE meeting in Indianapolis, teamwork was the subject of many papers.The presentation from the University of Michigan described a fresh approach; their EducationalTheatre Company’s “Off Course” sketch for showed students what not to do in teams. Inspiredby this work, the faculty and teaching assistants affiliated with our own introductory course usedthis “sketch” technique in a one-hour lecture slot for all students. Our effort differed from Michigan’s effort in several ways. For one, we used current TAsfor the skit. Through a brief training process, we brought our TAs up to speed on a variety ofstudent personalities and backgrounds. Building on our diverse student body, the TAsincorporated challenges that face all groups of students (both international and domestic, maleand female, etc.) They then created two before-and-after style scenarios regarding teamwork,scheduling, and communication. The presentations were introduced by a member of ourhumanities faculty, who put the theme of teamwork into the context of the history of science.Then, our teaching assistants presented examples of bad teams, discussed what had gone wrongand strategies to improve, and finally made presentations of good teams. Although our approach was not as well honed as the one by the University of Michigan,we were still effective. Anecdotal reports from students described how well we reached ourpopulation. In this paper, we supplement these reports with our regular student survey as well asproject completion rates for Fall 2014. Our presentation will be repeated on February 18, 2015,which will allow us to gather more data. We have prepared a mechanism for attaining feedbackon our presentation using interactive clickers for the spring semester. Although this data will notbe available for the first draft we submit on February 2, we will include it in the May 15 draft ifour paper is accepted.
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