June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.564.1 - 12.564.12
Dramatizing Engineering Education: The Performance of Teamwork
Engineering education is now characterized by innovative approaches to instruction. Collaboration between (often disparate) disciplines is becoming increasingly common to meet the educational needs of engineering undergraduates. ABET’s EC 2000 has shifted the focus from technical educational outcomes to encompass professional educational outcomes, including the ability to communicate and function effectively on multidisciplinary teams. As a result, greater emphasis is placed on teaching students the teamwork principles and associated communication competencies necessary for a healthy and productive team experience. Interestingly, teamwork pedagogy has not occupied a prominent position in the engineering education literature, despite this emphasis on teaming in the classroom and industry. The purpose of this paper is to highlight one specific, innovative approach to teaming instruction that requires collaboration from faculty in three different disciplines, namely, communication, drama, and engineering. Representatives from each department work with undergraduate engineering students to teach them team dynamics through writing of vignettes appropriate for the particular curriculum, and through performance, employing a range of techniques such as role-play, role switching, alter-egoing, etc. A description of this educational approach is provided, followed by a summary of students’ reactions to the instruction. Finally, faculty members’ reflect on their experience working as part of a multidisciplinary team and offer recommendations for implementation.
The field of engineering demands collaboration to solve today’s complex problems. Gone are the days of working alone in a lab. Today’s engineer needs to be able to function as a productive team member, and to accomplish this objective, the engineer needs to be a competent communicator. As a result, much of the focus of communication instruction within the engineering disciplines emphasizes effective informal communication within teams. In fact, a greater focus has been placed on “teaming” in the engineering education literature.
Engineering teaming research, in general, encompasses the following areas: (a) cooperative learning, (b) specific examples of using teams in the classroom, (c) the impact of gender (and other demographic variables) on team productivity, (d) common teaming deficiencies, and (e) approaches for assessing teamwork (i.e. grading or evaluating team projects). Although this literature is a valuable resource for instructors of teamwork, it fails to address team pedagogy. That is, of the essays which afford mention of team communication as an important aspect of effective professional development, none go on to explain how to teach students effective teamwork principles for the benefit of the project and team member relationships.i Often, the unfortunate reality of teamwork in the classroom (stemming from a lack of productive team
i For an exception, see Seat, E. and Lord, S. M., “Enabling Effective Engineering Teams: A Program for Teaching Interaction Skills,” Journal of Engineering Education, Oct. 1999, pp. 385-390.
Kedrowicz, A., & Nelson, B. (2007, June), Dramatizing Engineering Education: The Performance Of Teamwork Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2180
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