June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Design in Engineering Education
14.297.1 - 14.297.14
Building the Team: Assessing Two Design Group Formation Methodologies
Design is a social process. This commonly held concept in the design community is widely supported by research literature. Most universities utilize student teams when teaching the design process to replicate professional practice and provide a structure around which students learn the subject matter. However, a commonly encountered problem with design group formation in an academic environment is the decision by the instructor on how to form the teams. Should students be allowed to choose their own groups, or should instructors assign the teams directly? If groups are assigned, how should the students be divided among the teams? This project seeks to provide insight into these questions.
ME450, a course which provides a capstone design experience to senior non-engineering majors at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, is structured around three team-based engineering design projects, or EDPs. Student design teams for these EDPs consist of three to four individuals who work toward the common goal of applying the engineering design process to designing and constructing prototypes for competition against the other teams in the course.
To study the results of group formation, student design teams for ME450 were instructor- assigned in half of the sections and self-selected in the others. Prior to the first lesson of the course, all students were required to take the Jung Typology Test ™ based on Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs typological approach to personality. In those sections with instructor- assigned groups, teams were assembled based on the results of this test with the goal being to place students into groups with varying personality types. This study seeks to provide insight into the following questions:
Are there any significant differences in student performance between instructor-assigned and self-selected design groups? Which groups produce better products? Do individuals of the same or differing personality types come together in the self- selected sections? Are students more satisfied with one or the other type of group formation? Which groups tend to work best together with the least amount of personal conflicts?
This paper provides a qualitative assessment of the effectiveness of these two group formation methodologies through the use of student grades, course performance, an assessment of the quality of team products and prototypes, surveys, interviews with students, and course-end student feedback. The results of this assessment should be useful to any program that uses student teams to teach engineering.
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