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Impacting Team-based Learning of First-year Engineering College Students via the Creation of an Upperclassman Project Management Course

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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

Design Teams 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors

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Meghan Leigh Fajarillo


Angie Moussa

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Angie Moussa is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with Distinction from the Honors College.

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Yanfen Li University of Massachusetts Lowell Orcid 16x16

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Yanfen Li is an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She received her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Her current research is in engineering education with a focus on curriculum development and retention of female and minority students in

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In engineering, teamwork is an essential skill in addition to technical information and engineering design thinking. Within the engineering curriculum, it is common for courses to contain team based projects ranging from Introduction to BME courses early in the freshmen year to Senior Capstone courses at the end. However, students’ experiences vary greatly and when un-facilitated within large courses, students may find their experience detrimental instead. To overcome this issue, a new course was developed at XXX, Applications in Project Management in BME, which is a student-lead course where upperclassmen serve as project managers (PMs) to freshmen student teams in Intro to BME who are conducting a semester long project. These upperclassmen students learns about a promising career in engineering project management while they are immersed in their role as PMs of freshmen teams. These students are responsible for setting agendas, ensuring quality of deliverables, setting deadlines, and managing conflicts.

In this paper, we study the influence of PMs on the team dynamics and learning of the first year students enrolled in Intro to BME. With this course, 2 out of the 5 sections worked with upperclassmen PMs (PM group) and three sections worked independently without PMs (Cont. group) as in previous years. At the end of the semester, a survey was conducted to study the students’ self-efficacy, confidence, teamwork, and stress. No significant differences were observed on students’ self-efficacy, confidence, and stress. However, statistically significant changes were observed when analyzing students’ perceptions of teamwork including higher ratings when asked about how well the group worked together and about group’s expectations and support. Further analysis showed that there were significant differences as reported by female and male students. Our data shows that iincorporation of upper-level project managers in first year courses can aid in their team based learning and that students with PMs worked better within their groups, had similar expectations, and were more supportive of each other.

Fajarillo, M. L., & Moussa, A., & Li, Y. (2021, July), Impacting Team-based Learning of First-year Engineering College Students via the Creation of an Upperclassman Project Management Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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