California State University, Los Angeles , California
April 4, 2019
April 4, 2019
April 6, 2019
Diversity and Pacific Southwest Section Meeting Paper Submissions
Group work has become common practice in engineering education, as it allows students to learn teamwork skills while applying them to the course material. In particular, group work allows students to develop relationships among individuals, the team, and the task, as well as develop an understanding of group dynamics. Since positive group dynamics are created through team cohesion activities, much research has focused on developing activities using groupware systems. These systems enhance perceptions of the group environment by establishing common ground rules and shared expectations, but have historically been applied in the workplace rather than in an educational setting.
Building upon prior research findings that utilized team ground rules groupware systems to engineering education settings, this study assessed the repeatability, acceptability and effectiveness of using a ground rules system to improve team cohesion. In particular, the following research question was posed: 1) are previously developed ground rules systems repeatable in lower-division undergraduate engineering courses that perform group work? 2) does student team cohesion improve when team-specific ground rules are established prior to performing group projects? The system was applied to a large undergraduate group engineering project that focused on a design-build-test application of bioengineering principles using computer-aided-design. The sophomore level biomedical engineering course provided 21 teams of 5-6 students with a student contract that established which particular ground rules are acceptable given the team’s culture. Students were encouraged to use their ground rules and team contract throughout the course’s group project to improve team cohesion. A survey at the end of the project was used to assess the acceptability of the ground rule system to improve team cohesion, and its effectiveness was determined by comparing project scores of those who used the system to those who did not.
It was found that out of 112 respondents, 76% found that agreeing on ground rules prior to the project was useful and their team followed their chosen ground rules, and 53% of the respondents felt that their team were all very committed to the contract. Furthermore, only 12% of respondents found that some of their team members were not committed to the contract. In addition, students who were followed the ground rules system had higher scores on project performance than those who did not (p < 0.01). After comparing the effect of demographics such as gender, ethnicity, income, and class level, it was found that there is a significant gender bias towards males (p = 0.011, Pearson chi-square test statistic = 8.9625). This is an important and distinct finding from prior research, as it indicates that female students do not find ground rules systems as effective as male students do to improve team cohesion. These novel findings suggest that the ground rules system can improve team cohesion, and further validates prior findings from other institutions. However, further research is needed to understand how female students perceive and utilize ground rules systems, and how to make them more effective for this population type, particularly in lower-division undergraduate engineering settings.
King, C. E. (2019, April), Assessing Effectiveness of a Ground Rule System for Group Work in Large Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2019 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, California State University, Los Angeles , California. https://peer.asee.org/31813
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