June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Design in Engineering Education
23.260.1 - 23.260.26
Building Student Capacity for High Performance TeamworkIt is generally known that effective teams can produce outcomes that exceed those of individuals.However, engineering graduates typically receive little instruction on how to develop a team into a stateof high performance. Consequently, student teams do not perform to the level they should, and graduatesare ill-prepared for the work environment in which they often must develop productive cross-functionalteams. This paper presents a research-based plan for identifying and teaching teamwork knowledge andskills essential for high performance teams.A conceptual framework for teamwork (see figure) shows elements of teamwork and their relationships inmaking high performance teams. Importantly, teams must maintain dual focuses to achieve as outputsboth team development and project completion. Inputs to teamwork include both contributions made byindividual members and those made collectively inexecution of team processes. Teams must controlthese inputs by establishing member roles andresponsibilities, contractual obligations tostakeholders, and project schedules. Productiveteams will demonstrate progress in (a) developingsupportive team relationships, (b) enabling workdone jointly by members, (c) coordinating workdone by individual members, and (d) managinginformation used by the team. The final outputs ofeffective teams will be exceptional teamdevelopment and impressive project completion.Engineering faculty and project mentors are challenged to develop students’ capacity for performing aseffective teams. To achieve these outcomes, faculty, mentors, and students need clear definition ofteamwork performances – both individual member contributions and team process performances.Students and their project mentors also must be motivated to achieve these performances. This paperdefines expected individual and team performances for building team relationships, working together,working individually, and managing team information. Motivation and achievement are enhanced whenmentors and students review and revise these targeted performances to which they will be heldaccountable.This paper also presents a rationale for distributing instruction across the curriculum and promotes thecognitive apprenticeship method of instruction for building team skills consistently in engineeringstudents. This paper will provide engineering faculty and project mentors the knowledge and resourcesfrom which to develop the capacity in engineering students to become high performance teams.
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