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Experiences With Group Work At The University Of Maryland

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Innovations in Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.617.1 - 11.617.14



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Paper Authors


Adel Shirmohammadi University of Maryland-College Park

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Adel Shirmohammadi is Professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland. He joined the university in 1986 and is a Fellow of ASABE.

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Arthur Johnson University of Maryland-College Park

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Arthur T. Johnson is Professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland. He came to the university in 1975, and is a Fellow of ASEE, AIMBE, BMES, AIHA, and ASABE.

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

Experiences With Group Work at the University of Maryland or Managing Groups – In Noir


Group work is integrated throughout all levels of the Biological Resources Engineering program at the University of Maryland. The following is a description of some of the successful policies and procedures, inspired by the lawless gun-toting history of the Al Capone era.

Tiny (to audience): “Call me Tiny. I wuz woikin’ wid da mob over on 454 Street, as well as 455 and 484. Da mob, dey don’ woik so well as independent contractors, if you know what I mean, so dey wuz organized into gangs of tree, maybe four. Anymore dan dis, an’ dey don’ have enough t’do. An’ idle han’s ain’t good for morale. Anyway, I wuz talkin’ wid my associate in crime, Big . . . . ”

Group Work Advantages

Boeing (2004) lists “a profound understanding of the importance of team work” as a desired attribute of a successful engineer. Groups are formed in many of our Biological Resources Engineering courses, including Biological Process Engineering (ENBE 454), Basic Electronic Design (ENBE 455), Engineering in Biology (ENBE 484), Capstone Design (ENBE 485 & 486), Computer Use in Bioresources Engineering (ENBE 241), Biological Control Systems (ENBE 471), and most other courses in the program.

There are advantages to group work for both the student and instructor. For the student, working in groups encourages teamwork and social skills necessary to later career life. For the instructor, grouping students reduces the amounts of assignments to be graded. For both, groups promote cooperative learning and enhance speed and thoroughness of communications from the instructor to students. Changes in assignments or schedules are more confidently communicated as long as group members assist by telling other group members. Perhaps most importantly, the quality of prepared submissions is improved if group members represent a diverse range of skills and experiences from which to draw.

Chadha and Nicholls (2006) emphasize the need for teaching transferable skills to students. They highlight several definitions for “transferable skills” as follows: 1. “skills that are developed within one situation (education) and are useful when transferred into another (employment) – (Fallows and Steven, 2000) 2. skills that are needed in any job and which enable people to participate in a flexible and adaptable work force – (Bennett et al., 2000).”

Shirmohammadi, A., & Johnson, A. (2006, June), Experiences With Group Work At The University Of Maryland Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--949

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