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Coaching Engineering Design Teams

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.142.1 - 3.142.10



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Paper Authors

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W. Poppen

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J. E. Seat

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G. Klukken

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D. Knight

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A. Glore

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J. Roger Parsons

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3230

Coaching Engineering Design Teams D. Knight, W. Poppen, J.E. Seat, J. Parsons, G. Klukken, A. Glore The University of Tennessee College of Education/College of Engineering

Introduction At an increasing rate, teams are becoming the primary unit of performance in industrial organizations.1 In line with this trend, representatives from industry have requested, and engineering educators have responded, that graduating seniors in engineering need to have a greater ability to work in teams2, 3. Although the University of Tennessee, Knoxville provides a team based design experience throughout the senior year, faculty who have taught these classes have experienced recurring problems with teamwork4. With the goal of improving the teamwork skills within these senior design teams, a program has been developed between the College of Engineering and the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology Unit (CECP) of the College of Education.

This program has involved the pairing of two groups of students. One group was composed of senior engineering students who were enrolled in a senior capstone design sequence in mechanical engineering. As a part of this class, these students were to meet throughout the spring semester to work in design teams on a problem provided by industry for the purposes of creating a realistic environment for the use of their engineering skills.

The second group of students were graduate students who were affiliated with the CECP unit within the College of Education. These students were enrolled in a graduate level course which placed them with their respective design teams. Graduate students who were allowed to enroll in the course had to either be doctoral students in Counseling Psychology or have completed a group dynamics course in CECP.

Program Design The program was designed to be a two part process. The first phase of the project focused on communications training. Using a combination of principles from learning style theory5 and human motor behavior theory6, Seat et al. created a communications training program custom designed for engineering students. This training was conducted toward the end of the first semester (Fall semester, 1996) and used three class periods to focus on three topics. The first topic focused on learning to question to get information. The second session taught the effective presentation of ideas. Finally, the goal of the third session was to put the previous two skills sets to use in a debate session so that the trainees could learn to have differences of opinion without conflict.

In the second phase of the program, the CECP graduate students were designated in the role of "coaches" and met with their respective design teams once a week during the Spring semester of 1997. In addition, coaches met once a week with a CECP faculty member to discuss the progress with their teams and discuss appropriate interventions. Following principles proposed by Schwarz,7 the "coaching role" called for coaches to remain neutral to the content of

Poppen, W., & Seat, J. E., & Klukken, G., & Knight, D., & Glore, A., & Parsons, J. R. (1998, June), Coaching Engineering Design Teams Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--6963

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