Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Working in teams is a vital component within the chemical engineering profession (Ohland, Giurintano, Novoselich, Brackin, & Sangelkar, 2015). For senior chemical engineering students, the capstone design course provides an opportunity for students to work in teams to develop their teamwork skills in preparation for their future career. To better emphasize that necessary professional skills, especially teamwork, the [university’s] Chemical Engineering capstone design course was redesigned for the 2017-2018 academic year. This paper reports on the mixed methods evaluation to investigate student perceptions on their teamwork experiences during capstone design yielding insights to further scaffold students in the future. To examine student perceptions on teamwork, we conducted a questionnaire with both closed- and open-ended items. Initial findings indicate that students believed working on a team in capstone design was a valuable experience with a high average rating of 4.20 out of 5. This high rating of importance was largely consistent across students, even for students who reported “horrible” team experiences through the open-response items. Students also believed teamwork is the most relevant skill to their future work among the six skills (writing, using modeling software, problem solving, designing equipment, economic evaluation), with a high average of 4.52 out of 5, consistent with the result that 44% of the open responses talked about the importance of teamwork to their future work. The qualitative, open-coding analysis into the teamwork yielded varied aspects of teamwork that students highlighted in their capstone projects. These aspects can be grouped into three themes: Theme 1: Team Coordination, including categories of 1) communication, 2) individual responsibility, 3) improving efficiency, and 4) strengths and weaknesses of different team members; Theme 2: Simulation to Real World, including categories of 5) the value of different ideas or perspectives, 6) relevance to real-world project or work, 7) supporting each other; Theme 3 Necessity; Theme 4 Challenge. While the first three themes have specific indicators, the Challenge includes all the reported difficulties, challenges, situations that engendered negative experience. These codes then allow us to see conflicting perspectives within the different themes. Specifically, while students perceived communication to be critical to efficient and productive collaborative processes, some reported challenges of effectively executing these skills. Also, while some embraced the idea of having people with different perspectives, others showed negative feelings towards having people they don’t know or who they perceive as different, such as requesting to pick their own teammates. More importantly, a critical element of collaboration, conflict resolution strategies (Borrego, Karlin, McNair, & Beddoes, 2013; Oladiran, Uziak, Eisenberg, & Scheffer, 2011), were not discussed by students and noticeably absent from their discussion of teamwork and the skills needed to be successful on teams. Our findings can help to inform the design of capstone design courses to support collaborative learning for senior chemical engineering students. A regular evaluation system should be built in the formative assessment to hold individual members accountable for their responsibilities (Ohland et al., 2012). Instructors should also explicitly discuss conflict resolution pronounced and provide tips on repair strategies for when disagreements or problems arise.
Xia, Y., & Cutler, S., & McFadden, D. (2020, June), Collaborative Project-based Learning Approach to the Enculturation of Senior Engineering Students into the Professional Engineering Practice of Teamwork Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34299
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