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Developing Critical Collaboration Skills in Engineering Students: Results from an Empirical Study

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Teamwork

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Pilar Pazos Old Dominion University Orcid 16x16

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Pilar Pazos is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA. Her main areas of research interest are collaborative work-structures, virtual teams and team decision-making and performance.

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Nina Magpili Engineering Management & Systems Engineering (EMSE), Old Dominion University

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Nina Magpili is a Ph.D. candidate and graduate research and teaching assistant at Engineering Management and Systems Engineering (EMSE) department at Old Dominion University. Her dissertation explores deep-level diversity (MBTI, decision-making styles and communication styles) in virtual team decision making. Her other research interests include online collaboration technologies, team building, self-managing teams, and sociotechnical systems.

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Zikai Zhou Old Dominion University

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Zikai Zhou is a PhD student in Old Dominion University and his research interests are about team collaboration and cognition analysis.

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Luis Jose Rodriguez Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division

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Luis J. (LJ) Rodriguez, D.Eng., is a manager at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD). He is also an adjunct professor within the Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He holds a Doctor of Engineering degree and a Masters of Engineering Management (M.E.M.) from Old Dominion University, as well as a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

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In highly technical organizations, work is becoming increasingly distributed; requiring practicing engineers to master virtual collaboration skills while acquiring expertise in a range of collaboration technologies. Although there has been great emphasis on developing collaboration competencies in the engineering curriculum, empirical evidence of successful strategies for distributed team settings is scarce. As an attempt to fill this gap this study investigates the impact of a scalable intervention in developing virtual collaboration skills. The intervention, based on instructional scaffolds embedded with collaboration technologies, is aimed at supporting specific processes including planning, goal setting, clarifying goals and expectations, communication, coordination and progress monitoring. A quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the impact of the intervention on student teamwork skills. Data from 278 graduate and undergraduate engineering students participating in virtual team projects was used in the analysis. Results from the analysis are presented suggesting a statistically significant impact of the intervention on self-management skills when comparing randomly assigned teams with and without the intervention. The intervention is designed to be scalable so that it can be embedded into existing project-based courses. Our findings have important implications for the development of teamwork skills in engineering courses and provide evidence of a successful strategy that can be integrated into the existing engineering curriculum.

Pazos, P., & Magpili, N., & Zhou, Z., & Rodriguez, L. J. (2016, June), Developing Critical Collaboration Skills in Engineering Students: Results from an Empirical Study Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26750

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