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Board 28: Work in Progress: Peer-Induced Competition Among Design Teams - Do Weekly Updates Among Leaders Accelerate Progress?

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Mary Staehle Rowan University

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Dr. Mary Staehle is an Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Rowan University. Before joining the faculty at Rowan in 2010, Dr. Staehle worked at the Daniel Baugh Institute for Functional Genomics and Computational Biology at Thomas Jefferson University and received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. Her research is in the area of biomedical control systems, specifically neural regeneration. Dr. Staehle is also particularly interested in biomedical and chemical engineering education.

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Erik Brewer

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Erik Brewer is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Rowan University, and Chief Scientist of ReGelTec, a biomedical start-up based in Mullica Hill, NJ. Prior to joining Rowan, Erik worked at Merck Research Labs in West Point, PA. Erik earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Drexel University. His research interests are in drug delivery and biomaterials.

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In the Rowan University Department of Biomedical Engineering, we offer a yearlong, team-based longitudinal Biomedical Engineering design course involving junior and senior students, and have recently implemented a Team Leader model for the design teams. The efficacy and benefits of the Team Leader model have been described previously by others. Our Team Leader program involves class meetings that serve as a two-way channel for information exchange, and leaders are responsible for presenting weekly updates to the instructors and their team leader peers. Although we are firm believers in the power of peer pressure for performance enhancement, we were surprised to observe that an apparent peer-induced competition has accelerated progress in the design teams. We were not surprised to see the straggling teams improve based on knowledge of their team’s progress relative to the other teams, but we observed a universal push toward project acceleration based on this apparent competition. Leaders who perceived their team as lagging behind another team’s progress in any capacity have redoubled their efforts to catch up and surpass the other teams. To determine whether this “competition effect” is real or merely a perception by the instructors, we have administered a survey of team leaders. Amongst various other questions, we asked team leaders to identify motivators for success, progress accelerators, detractions from progress, benefits of the team leader model, and perception of their team’s progress relative to the other teams. This preliminary study will codify and analyze the leaders’ responses to ascertain a better understanding of the Leader-observed role of peer-induced competition in progress acceleration. Future work will include a more formal assessment of these effects.

Staehle, M., & Brewer, E. (2018, June), Board 28: Work in Progress: Peer-Induced Competition Among Design Teams - Do Weekly Updates Among Leaders Accelerate Progress? Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29998

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