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Achievement Orientation, Engineering Students, and Teamwork

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 3: Working in Teams

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Robin Fowler University of Michigan

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Robin Fowler is a lecturer in the Program in Technical Communication at the University of Michigan. She enjoys serving as a "communication coach" to students throughout the curriculum, and she's especially excited to work with first year and senior students, as well as engineering project teams, as they navigate the more open-ended communication decisions involved in describing the products of open-ended design scenarios.

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Gwendalyn Camacho University of Washington

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Gwen Camacho graduated from the University of Washington in 2017 with a BA in Psychology. She is currently an Industrial-Organizational Psychology masters candidate at Seattle Pacific University. While pursuing her degree, she works as a project manager for a technology solutions company named Marici. She's also a part-time research assistant at the University of Washington for Dr. Crystal Farh, focusing on leadership within teams. Gwen is also interested in executive coaching, change management, and organizational development.

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Crystal Farh University of Washington

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Crystal Farh is an associate professor of management in the Foster School of Business of the University of Washington. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University (2005) and her doctorate in organizational behavior at the University of Maryland at College Park (2012). Her research seeks to understand how and when leader and member behaviors promote individual and team effectiveness in complex, challenging, and dynamic contexts. Dr. Farh has published her research in top-tier journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and Journal of Applied Psychology. At the University of Washington, Dr. Farh teaches leadership and management courses in the full-time, evening, and executive MBA programs.

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It is clear from the achievement orientation literature that achievement orientation has important effects on learning; this research paper considers achievement orientation in the context of team projects. Specifically, we investigated achievement as a general trait, as context-specific state orientation toward the project, and as team-level state orientation to the project. We find significant correlations between trait orientation and state orientation, suggesting students bring pieces of their default learning approach to this context. However, we find that team-level state orientation is not well-predicted by the orientation of the individuals who make up the team. In fact, team gender breakdown is a better predictor than individual trait orientation, which suggests that some other component of team culture is having a larger effect. We also propose a separate form of performance-avoid in this team-based context: avoiding tasks that risk others’ grades. We discuss the effects that achievement orientation can have in team contexts, and we suggest this topic is explored further.

Fowler, R., & Camacho, G., & Farh, C. (2019, June), Achievement Orientation, Engineering Students, and Teamwork Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32026

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