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Engineering Identity, Slackers, and Goal Orientation in Team Engineering Projects

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Motivation, Goal Orientation, Identity, and Career Aspirations

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors

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Yaqub Alam Mahsud Harvey Mudd College

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Alexandra Loumidis Harvey Mudd College

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Kobe Mia Rico

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An Nguyen Harvey Mudd College


Laura Palucki Blake Harvey Mudd College

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Laura Palucki Blake is the Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Harvey Mudd College, where her primary role is to coordinate data collection, interpretation and dissemination to support teaching and learning, planning and decision-making across the college.

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Matthew Spencer Harvey Mudd College

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Matthew Spencer is an assistant professor at Harvey Mudd College. His research interests include experiential and hands-on learning, and integrating mechanical, chemical and quantum devices into circuits and communication links.

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This research paper will describe the results from an investigation into long-running engineering team projects at a small liberal arts college. Engineering team projects, projects in which groups of students perform an engineering task over three or more weeks, comprise a significant portion of the engineering curriculum at the college, and students at the college have reported that engineering team projects have significant impact on the formation of engineering identity and the experience of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering. Though team formation is well studied in the classroom, less work has focused on the experience of student teams that must work together for a long period of time.

The purpose of this study is to understand the factors that influence the experiences and outcomes of engineering teams by asking three questions: how do team member goal orientations affect the outcomes of engineering team projects? What team forming mechanisms (e.g: self-selected, random, or instructor selected) lead to better team experiences? And, what effect does team project work have on engineering identity? The hypothesis of this paper is that positive team experiences, facilitated by similar goal orientations among team members, contribute to engineering identity and increased performance in team projects.

Surveys and interviews were administered to students in two courses to examine this hypothesis. The courses were a freshman level introduction to engineering design class and a junior-level, industry-sponsored capstone project class. Students were selected for interviews based on initial survey data, and strategic sampling was used to gather a set of students with different perspectives for interviews. The students in the introductory course will be asked to take two interviews - one at the beginning of their team projects and one at the end of the semester. Students in the junior-level course were interviewed once.

The interviews and surveys were designed to investigate student goal orientations, engineering identity, team formation strategies, and team experiences. The links between these factors and team performance will be assessed by analyzing final project and course grades, and by observing changes between the early and late interviews of the students in the introductory class. Six interviews have been carried out at the time of this abstract, and more are planned. Results from the study will be available for ASEE 2021.

Mahsud, Y. A., & Loumidis, A., & Rico, K. M., & Nguyen, A., & Palucki Blake, L., & Spencer, M. (2021, July), Engineering Identity, Slackers, and Goal Orientation in Team Engineering Projects Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37064

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