Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Engineering Leadership Development
This work-in-progress study seeks to inform about the need for identifying leadership skills that result in successful outcomes for student project teams. The study is done in the context of a curriculum that presently has no formal leadership training, such that effective leadership among the students occurs in an ad-hoc manner.
Engineers in industry are required to work in teams to accomplish large goals. Similarly, engineering students often work in teams in course projects cornerstone through capstone. The stakes of capstone design projects are often high as teams work together to address a large design problem. However, the success of these student teams is highly variable and often related to key team personnel, especially those students whose work catalyzes their team to work successfully toward achieving project objectives. This work-in-progress investigates the common characteristics of effective student leaders in engineering team projects.
This study is situated in the context of a capstone design course in a mechanical engineering program at a large midwestern university. The curriculum presently has no required training in engineering leadership. This multi-method study employs purposeful sampling to identify top-performing teams from the past four semesters. In the first phase of the study, faculty advisors of those teams were contacted for complete semi-structured interviews to share their perspectives regarding individual students’ contributions. The second phase of the study focuses on the students of these successful teams (i.e. alumni), especially any team members who are identified as the catalyst for the team’s success. Alumni participate in semi-structured interviews concerning the formative experiences that molded them into the leaders that they were during the course. The students will also complete a quantitative survey.
In the qualitative phase of data analysis, the research team will inductively code both sets of transcripts from the interviews to develop common themes that could relate to personality traits, upbringing, education, work experiences, and others. In the quantitative phase of data analysis, the research team will perform correlations with the survey data to better understand some of the resultant theme relationship.
The results of this study are intended to be used to inform the development and implementation of new leadership curricula in project-based courses, which may be implemented earlier in the degree program than the senior year. It has the potential to aid in the early identification of effective student leaders, possibly even before certain students have yet developed good leadership skills. In the capstone course, the study may be used to develop an improved method for distributing effective student leaders among more teams. Earlier in the curriculum, the results of this study may help to improve academic advising, using evidence to encourage certain students to get involved in leadership opportunities.
Johnson, B. E., & Goldstein, M. H., & Bradley, J. (2020, June), Identifying Effective Student Leaders to Improve Capstone Design Team Assignments Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34745
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