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Evolution of Leadership Behaviors During Two-Semester Capstone Design Course in Mechanical Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Assessment of Engineering Leadership Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Rebecca Komarek University of Colorado, Boulder

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Rebecca Komarek is the Assistant Director of the Idea Forge and Managing Director of Catalyze CU at the University of Colorado Boulder. She has taught in the areas of education research and leadership development and served as a design team adviser. She is earning her PhD in engineering education with a focus on leadership development.

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Daniel Knight University of Colorado, Boulder

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Daniel W. Knight is the Program Assessment and Research Associate at Design Center (DC) Colorado in CU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Louisiana State University, an M.S. degree in industrial/organizational psychology and a Ph.D. degree in education, both from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Knight’s research interests are in the areas of retention, program evaluation and teamwork practices in engineering education. His current duties include assessment, team development and education research for DC Colorado's hands-on initiatives.

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Angela R Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE). She has served as the ABET assessment coordinator for the department since 2008. Professor Bielefeldt's research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity. Bielefeldt is also a licensed P.E.

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As universities strive to graduate engineering students who can make an impact on society, engineering leadership programs have become more prominent. The National Academy of Engineers as well as various engineering professional societies highlight the importance of leadership skills in engineering. Because the conversation on leadership among engineering students is growing, the researchers found the opportunity to better understand the ways students exhibit leadership behaviors in their group work. The research answers the question of how engineering students’ leadership behaviors evolve during the course of a year-long capstone design course. Using the Competing Values Framework (CVF) and accompanying Managerial Behavior Instrument (MBI), this study compares mechanical engineering student self-reported leadership behaviors at the beginning, middle, and end of a year-long capstone design course at a large, public institution. The 36-item MBI was distributed to the students during the 2016-17 academic year, resulting in an n of 188. The students did not complete formal leadership development programming during the course, through some were given instruction in project management. All students were engaging in intensive team-based projects, most sponsored by industry or campus researchers with two projects being competition teams. Teams consisted of 7-9 students each and 18 percent of respondents were women.

The relevant theory, the CVF, highlights one’s need to utilize behaviors from multiple of the four quadrants outlined in the framework (Collaborate, Create, Control, and Compete) to be an effective leader. The student responses will be compared at the quadrant level of the CVF and comparisons will be drawn between prominent student reported behaviors. Early descriptive statistics show that student reported behaviors mostly aligned with the Collaborate quadrant at the beginning, middle and end of their course. The second highest rated set of behaviors were from the Compete, Control, and Compete quadrants at the beginning, middle, and end of the course, respectively. For the study, survey data from will be compared at each period of time using a repeated measures ANOVA. The results from the analysis will be linked to the class activities at the time of survey administration and will explore gender differences and the change in students’ self-reported view in their leadership behaviors. This research relates to the LEAD strategic initiatives of how to effectively integrate leadership within curriculum and assess leadership development of engineering students.

Komarek, R., & Knight, D., & Bielefeldt, A. R. (2018, June), Evolution of Leadership Behaviors During Two-Semester Capstone Design Course in Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30460

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