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Assessing Team Functioning In Engineering Education

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Student Teams and Active Learning

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Page Numbers

7.234.1 - 7.234.10

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Paper Authors

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Ted Powers

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Judith Sims-Knight

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Session 2330

Assessing Team Functioning in Engineering Education

Theodore A. Powers, Judith Sims-Knight, Raluca A. Topciu, Sara C. Haden

Department of Psychology University of Massachusetts Dartmouth


The present study used a series of team process checks modeled on those developed at Arizona State University to assess team functioning. Team members completed these forms individually and then collectively the members assessed the team as a whole. These process checks were compared to faculty ratings of the teams. The students’ individual knowledge about teaming skills was also assessed and the relationship of these various measures to performance was examined. Two distinct dimensions of team functioning appear to be measured by the team process check: agency and affiliation. The process checks were positively correlated with faculty ratings, and the agency dimension of the scale predicted team project scores in one of the classes evaluated but not in the other two.


With the growing prominence of the use of teams in education and business, the need for systematic, well-validated assessment of team functioning is clear. Previous assessment efforts have ranged from hastily constructed and poorly validated instruments to rigorously developed and empirically tested assessment processes. The difficulty with several of the better constructed and empirically validated systems such as those suggested by Cannon-Bowers and Salas1 is that they are so complex and comprehensive that they beco me impractical in anything but the most rigorous and resource-rich environments (which universities often are not). The present study pursued the less ambitious, but perhaps more practical, goal of attempting to develop and validate a relatively simple self-report instrument, The Team Process Check (TPC), for assessing the functioning of teams in an educational setting.

A number of researchers within the engineering field have been working on defining outcomes in teaming and developing multi-source feedback systems2,3. These researchers point out that many of the assessment instruments in use in engineering education have not been well validated. They suggest what they refer to as triangulation or multiple measurements of an outcome to begin to improve the validity of the assessment process. McGourty and De Meuse 4 propose a four- dimensional model of team behavior (collaboration, communication, conflict management and self-management) and use a 24-item self-rating scale to assess these theoretical dimensions. Data

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Powers, T., & Sims-Knight, J. (2002, June), Assessing Team Functioning In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada.

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