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Characterization Of Project Team Dynamics Of Engineering And Management Students Based On Cognitive Style

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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

Focus on Undergraduate Impact

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.289.1 - 7.289.18



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Paper Authors

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Kathryn Jablokow

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Main Menu Session 2642

Characterization of Project Team Dynamics for Engineering and Management Students Based on Cognitive Style

Keith W. Buffinton and Kathryn W. Jablokow Bucknell University / Pennsylvania State University


The problem-solving styles and interpersonal dynamics of project teams are often critical dimensions of the ability of a team to function effectively. In order to study the problem-solving styles of engineering and management students and to track intra-team interactions, the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI) was used to determine the cognitive styles of the students in Bucknell’s Institute for Leadership in Technology and Management (ILTM) during the summer of 2001. The KAI scores were then utilized to interpret and characterize data collected through journaling assignments in which the students recorded their observations about the abilities of project team members to work and communicate with each other. Results show that KAI scores correlate well with both positive and negative aspects of project team experiences.

1.0 Introduction

Each summer at Bucknell University, a select group of 20 undergraduate engineering and management students are invited to participate in Bucknell’s Institute for Leadership in Technology and Management (ILTM). The core offerings of the ILTM are an on-campus summer course taken by students after their sophomore year and an off-campus internship completed during the summer after their junior year. The on-campus portion of the ILTM, which is the primary source of material for this paper, engages the students in an extremely intensive six-week program that focuses on issues such as globalization, ethics, communication skills, critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership. The students hear lectures and attend workshops by faculty and corporate leaders, travel to selected industrial and business sites, and work with companies on significant and real-world management and technological projects.

For the project portion of the program, the 20 students are div ided into 4 project teams of 5 students each. Each team is assigned a faculty advisor and given a project description developed by a sponsoring company. The projects discussed here were sponsored by General Electric, IBM, Corning, and Brodart Contract Furniture Division and were conducted during the summer of 2001. Although each project team has a faculty advisor, the projects are primarily guided by executives from the sponsoring corporations. The goal of each project is to expose the students to a real and significant corporate initiative that has both technological and managerial dimensions, as well as to let them experience the conflicts and management issues that can arise in an intensive team environment.

Traditionally, the project teams are assembled to maximize heterogeneity in three areas: gender, major, and grade point average (GPA). The heterogeneity of the project teams is sought not only to balance the capabilities and skill sets of the groups, but also to force the students to work with

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

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Jablokow, K. (2002, June), Characterization Of Project Team Dynamics Of Engineering And Management Students Based On Cognitive Style Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10492

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