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Developing Team Work Skills Through A Core Design Thread

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Teams and Teamwork in Design I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.399.1 - 13.399.15



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Paper Authors


Keith Sheppard Stevens Institute of Technology

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Keith Sheppard is a Professor of Materials Engineering and Associate Dean of Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He earned the B.Sc. from the University of Leeds, England and Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham, England, both in Metallurgy. As Associate Dean, Sheppard is primarily responsible for undergraduate programs. He is a past Chair of the ASEE Design in Engineering Education Division.

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Peter Dominick Stevens Institute of Technology

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Peter G. Dominick is Assistant Professor of Management in the W.J. Howe School of Technology Management at Stevens Institute of Technology. He is coordinator of leadership development education for the School’s Executive MBA, Project Management and Undergraduate Business and Technology programs. His research interests focus on leadership and leadership development and his consulting work includes executive coaching, team-building and process consultation. Prof. Dominick received his Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from Stevens, earned his MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and completed his undergraduate studies in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.

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Edward Blicharz Stevens Institute of Technology

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Edward Blicharz is a Distinguished Service Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Stevens Institute of Technology. He is coordinator of core engineering design courses in Freshman & Sophomore years. Prior to his current position, Blicharz worked for 25 years in project management and systems engineering in the aerospace & telecommunications industries. He has a B.E in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

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

Developing Team-work Skills through a Core Design Thread


An approach to evolving teaming skills through a sequence of core design courses starting in Freshman Year is discussed. In the first course in the sequence basic concepts are given for effective teamwork and related individual behaviors. A survey is used at this point to assess students’ prior team and group work experience as well as their attitudes toward team-based work. After participation as a team member in the major design project, students are given a first exposure to a peer feedback questionnaire in which they assess their own attitudes and performance on the team and as well as those of their team-mates. This thread in teaming is continued in the second design course by revisiting the peer-feedback questionnaire at mid- semester and the use of team charters where individuals work together in the team to identify and document personal and team development goals. At the end of the semester a final peer- feedback questionnaire is used to assess team development and also to modulate an individual group project grade to reflect the contributions of the individual team members. Extension of the teaming thread into subsequent design courses is planned. In this paper, the experience and assessments from the freshman year part of the teaming thread are discussed. In particular, we provide analysis of the relationships between prior teaming experiences and actual behavior as measured through peer and self-evaluation and provide inferences on how these can be used as assessment tools and for personal development.


The ability to work effectively in teams, and especially multidisciplinary teams, is a key competency needed of engineers to be successful in the 21st Century workplace. The imperative for addressing this issue is reflected in national reports on the future of engineering education1,2 and also specifically in the ABET Engineering Criteria for accreditation which require all undergraduate engineering programs to include teaming in their educational outcomes and the associated assessment. This need to address teaming has been driven by the advocacy of industry which has long recognized its importance. Not surprisingly, much of the research and skill development approaches related to effective teaming are found in the management literature. It is only relatively recently that we see this area being addressed in the engineering education literature as the profession seeks to understand and implement appropriate means to develop team skills in engineering students. While engineering educators can certainly learn from the body of knowledge associated with teaming in the business world, they also have to respond to the fact that students are not subject to the same contextual issues that teams and team members experience in business. Students are engaged in smaller projects of shorter duration, with significantly less at stake in the success of the team than will typically be the case after graduation. To put it more bluntly, students do not have their livelihood on the line. The maturity and experience of students are also typically limited and these can influence perspective in approaching teamwork and the development of the requisite skills. Thus, addressing effective teaming skills through the undergraduate engineering curriculum represents a significant challenge.

Sheppard, K., & Dominick, P., & Blicharz, E. (2008, June), Developing Team Work Skills Through A Core Design Thread Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3234

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