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Board 18: Social Network Analysis of In-Group Biases with Engineering Project Teams

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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

College Industry Partnerships Division Poster Session

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College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Nitzan Navick California State University, Channel Islands Orcid 16x16

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Nitzan Navick obtained a B.A. in Psychology from California State University Channel Islands. She is now a post-bacc student working on a new, original study and will be entering the MA/PhD in Communication Program at UCSB in Fall of 2019. Currently, she works as a grant coordinator for Projects iPath and Adelante at CSU Channel Islands, two Title V grant sub-awards dedicated to increasing the 4-year college attendance rate among community college students in Ventura County - particularly students from historically underserved groups. Her academic and research interests include team processes; virtual teamwork; subjective states' effects on collaboration in computer mediated settings; and network analysis.

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Megan Kenny Feister CSUCI

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Megan Kenny Feister is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Communication at California State University Channel Islands. She previously held a postdoctoral research position working on her grant funded research in Engineering Projects in Community Service at Purdue University. She is a recipient of the Purdue Research Foundation dissertation grant and co-wrote a National Science Foundation grant for her dissertation and postdoctoral work in Organizational Communication at Purdue. Her primary research interests include collaboration and innovation; negotiations of expertise in team-based organizational work; team processes and decision-making; ethical reasoning, constitution, and processes; engineering design; technology and its impacts on organizational and personal life; and network analysis.

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This study explores the relationship between friendships of engineering students on project teams within a classroom setting and how their perceptions of each other create in-group biases throughout the class. Using Social Network Analysis (SNA), an analysis that enables researchers to examine relationships among members of a given group, we were able to identify distinct in-groups, otherwise described as groups of students with similar social identities. Survey data about participants were collected twice over the course of a semester that identified their designated project team and demographics. We paid particular attention to participants’ perceptions of, and reliance on, a teammate’s competencies as our visual representation of the data indicated that in-groups were rather distinct in these conditions. Attributes including age, sex, ethnicity, racial identification, year, and designated project team were drawn from the demographic portion of the SNA surveys and assigned to each participant to determine if relationships and communication may be impacted by these characteristics. The ability to pinpoint where in-groups begin and end, and the factors that may aid in their formation, is crucial when aspiring to better understand team dynamics. By identifying reciprocal ties and the way they affect perceptions and willingness to rely on others, a more cohesive network can be established throughout the whole class by therefore minimizing any potential knowledge sharing disparities and improving work efficiency. Thus, the findings from this study can be utilized to encourage increased knowledge sharing.

Navick, N., & Kenny Feister, M. (2019, June), Board 18: Social Network Analysis of In-Group Biases with Engineering Project Teams Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32286

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