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Impact of High-Performing Teams on Student Learning

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Teams, Capstone Courses, and Project Based-Learning

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Molly A. McVey University of Kansas

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Dr. Molly A. McVey is a post-doctoral teaching fellow at the University of Kansas School of Engineering where she works with faculty to incorporate evidence-based and student-centered teaching methods, and to research the impacts of changes made to teaching on student learning and success. Dr. McVey earned her Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 2012.

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Carl W. Luchies University of Kansas


Adrian Joseph Villicana University of Kansas

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I am a graduate student in the Social Psychology PhD program at the University of Kansas. As of August 2017, I will be an Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Puget Sound. My research interests, broadly, are in stereotyping and prejudice, in which I apply an intersectional lens. As for teaching, I incorporate aspects of intersectionality and action teaching in increase students critical thinking and awareness of social justice issues.

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Impact of High Performing Teams on Student Learning

The authors have experimented with the incorporation of team-based learning in an undergraduate Dynamics course. This course has 59-120 junior level mechanical engineering students enrolled and has been taught in a flipped format, using the SCALE-UP model, for several semesters. A majority of class time is spent working in teams to solve problems. Tests are two stage exams in which the first part is done individually, then the teams work together for the second part of the exam. By design, the course relies heavily on peer-to-peer instruction through team work, therefore the instructor has the goal of improving student learning through higher functioning teams. To that end, two significant changes were implemented in Spring 2016.

First, teams were changed from 3 person collaborative groups to 5 person teams, utilizing the Team Maker Survey in CATME to assign teams. Criteria were used to distribute students across the teams (GPA, grade in prerequisite course, commitment level, leadership preference, big picture/detail oriented, English skills, writing skills) as well as to group students together within teams (gender and race). The Peer Review Survey in CATME allowed students to evaluate themselves and their teammates on certain criteria (contributing to work, interacting with teammates, keeping team on track, expecting quality, team conflict, team satisfaction, team interdependence, and team cohesiveness) and to be made aware of how their teammates assessed them. The overall team peer-to-peer evaluation scores were used in the group performance score for the course.

Second, brief team-development activities were presented at the beginning of each lecture session. These activities consisted of 2 questions- the first was a fun, surface-level question used to get the students talking (i.e. “What is your favorite restaurant and why?”). The second question was designed to illicit more self-reflection, awareness, and discussion around team-centered topics (i.e. “Provide one attribute of your team that is working well.”).

In order to assess the effectiveness of these changes, we investigated three major questions. First, how did students’ individual performance in Spring 2016 compare to Fall 2014 (the semester before the change)? This will be investigated by analyzing the individual portion of exam questions linked to similar learning objectives. Second, how did team performance in Spring 2016 compare to Fall 2014? This will be investigated by analyzing the group portion of 2 stage exams linked to similar learning objectives and peer evaluations. Finally, what impact did being in a high performing team have on individual learning? To investigate this question, we will compare the individual performance of students in "high," "average," and "low" performing teams in Spring 2016.

Team-based learning resulted in significant improvements on exam questions linked to learning objectives for both individuals and teams, a high level of satisfaction with their teams as noted on peer evaluations, and improved individual performance for those on high-performing teams compared to lower performing teams. This is encouraging given the relative ease of making the change from cooperative groups and casual group work to a more structured team-based learning environment.

McVey, M. A., & Luchies, C. W., & Villicana, A. J. (2017, June), Impact of High-Performing Teams on Student Learning Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28465

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