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A Systematized Literature Review of the Characteristics of Team Mental Models in Engineering Design Contexts

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division: Design Mental Frameworks

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Eunhye Kim Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Eunhye Kim is a Ph.D. student and research assistant in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research interests lie in engineering design education, especially for engineering students’ entrepreneurial mindsets and multidisciplinary teamwork skills in design and innovation projects. She earned a B.S. in Electronics Engineering and an M.B.A. in South Korea and worked as a hardware development engineer and an IT strategic planner in the industry.

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Design tasks are characterized by high levels of complexity and uncertainty. Accordingly, in engineering design practices, engineers communicate, share, and integrate their different viewpoints and orientations to develop a deeper understanding of the problem space and to broaden the solution space. In this context, engineering design is usually taught in team-based learning environments, and students’ teaming is evaluated as one of the learning objectives in design courses. The evaluation has tended to rely on students’ self- or peer-reported data. The self- or peer-evaluation process can encourage students to participate more actively in team activities and to self-reflect on their actions and contribution in teaming. However, the evaluation can have some limitations because it could not allow educators to monitor and provide formative feedback on cognitive aspects of students' participation and social interactions during their collaborative inquiry and knowledge construction processes. Therefore, this study seeks out a potential way to examine and assess engineering students’ teaming in design projects, employing the concept of team mental models (TMMs). As a systematized literature review, this study reviewed and synthesized 25 articles that had used the concept of TMMs as a vehicle for investigating and discussing engineering students or engineers' social interactions and learning in design teams. The main objective of this study is to help engineering educators understand better how engineering students or professionals communicate, share, and integrate their knowledge, skills, perspectives, experiences, and expectations throughout dynamic design processes. For the objective, this study answers the following research questions: 1) how TMMs are developed throughout design processes, 2) how TMMs influence design team performance, and 3) how TMMs can be externalized and measured. The synthesized findings describe dynamic aspects of the TMMs in the context of engineering design and inhibiting and facilitating factors in the process of developing TMMs, connections between TMMs and design team performance, and evaluation of the quality of TMMs. I believe that this study can contribute to the theoretical foundations for fostering and assessing engineering students' effective teaming in design contexts, focusing more on cognitive aspects of their participation and interactions in the process of collaborative inquiry and knowledge construction.

Kim, E. (2019, June), A Systematized Literature Review of the Characteristics of Team Mental Models in Engineering Design Contexts Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32009

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