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Effect of Psychological Safety on the Interaction of Students in Teams

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Team Facilitation and Effectiveness

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Behzad Beigpourian Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Behzad Beigpourian is a Ph.D. student and Research Assistant in Engineering Education at Purdue University. He earned his master’s in Structural Engineering from Shahid Chamran University in Iran, and his bachelor’s in Civil Technical Teacher from Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University in Iran, Tehran. He has been official Technical Teacher at Ministry of Education in Iran from 2007 to 2018, and received many certificate in education such as Educational Planning, Developing Research Report, and Understanding School Culture. Mr. Beigpourian currently works in the CATME project, which is NSF funding project, on optimizing teamwork skills and assessing the quality of Peer Evaluations.

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Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Matthew W. Ohland is Associate Head and Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. His research on the longitudinal study of engineering students, team assignment, peer evaluation, and active and collaborative teaching methods has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation and his team received for the best paper published in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008, 2011, and 2019 and from the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011 and 2015. Dr. Ohland is an ABET Program Evaluator for ASEE. He was the 2002–2006 President of Tau Beta Pi and is a Fellow of the ASEE, IEEE, and AAAS.

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Daniel M. Ferguson Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Daniel M. Ferguson is CATME Managing Director and the recipient of several NSF awards for research in engineering education and a research associate at Purdue University. Prior to coming to Purdue he was Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Ohio Northern University. Before assuming that position he was Associate Director of the Inter-Professional Studies Program [IPRO] and Senior Lecturer at Illinois Institute of Technology and involved in research in service learning, assessment processes and interventions aimed at improving learning objective attainment. Prior to his University assignments he was the Founder and CEO of The EDI Group, Ltd. and The EDI Group Canada, Ltd, independent professional services companies specializing in B2B electronic commerce and electronic data interchange. The EDI Group companies conducted syndicated market research, offered educational seminars and conferences and published The Journal of Electronic Commerce. He was also a Vice President at the First National Bank of Chicago [now J.P. Morgan Chase], where he founded and managed the bank’s market leading professional Cash Management Consulting Group, initiated the bank’s non-credit service product management organization and profit center profitability programs and was instrumental in the breakthrough EDI/EFT payment system implemented by General Motors. Dr. Ferguson is a graduate of Notre Dame, Stanford and Purdue Universities, a special edition editor of the Journal of Engineering Entrepreneurship and a member of Tau Beta Pi.

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CONTEXT Diverse contributions from team members have the potential to improve innovation in engineering student teams, but students must feel psychologically safe to contribute fully. Low psychological safety can decrease cohesion in teams and increase conflict. PURPOSE This study aims to explore trends in the psychological safety of students, teams, course sections and their effect on the interactions of students within the teams. METHODS We used multilevel (hierarchical) modeling to address our research question. The quality of teammate interaction is the outcome variable and is predicted by individual psychological safety in the first level, the team's average psychological safety in the second level, and the course sections' average psychological safety of students in the third level. RESULTS Based on the result, peer evaluations of the interaction each student has with team members (the outcome) can significantly be predicted by the psychological safety of a student and the level of psychological safety in teams. The sections' average psychological safety did not affect our outcome. CONCLUSIONS If we expect students to interact more with peers within the teams, we should make sure that psychological safety is high in both individual and team levels. It is possible that the lack of variability by the course section is a result of studying all the sections of a coordinated course.

Beigpourian, B., & Ohland, M. W., & Ferguson, D. M. (2020, June), Effect of Psychological Safety on the Interaction of Students in Teams Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34497

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