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Improving Efficacy in Group Projects with Teamwork Agreements

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 2A: Using Alternative Measurements to Look at Students and Their Success

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Jack Bringardner New York University Orcid 16x16

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Jack Bringardner is an Assistant Professor in the First-Year Engineering Program at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. He studied civil engineering and received his B.S. from the Ohio State University and his M.S and Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. His primary focus is developing curriculum and pedagogical techniques for engineering education, particularly in the Introduction to Engineering and Design course at NYU. He has a background in Transportation Engineering and is affiliated with the NYU Civil and Urban Engineering department.

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Christopher Leslie New York University

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Christopher Leslie is a Lecturer of Science, Technology and Media Studies at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn, New York, and he is codirector of the Science and Technology Studies program there. Dr. Leslie's research considers the cultural formations that surround technology, science, and media in the 19th- and 20th-century United States. He is the head writing consultant for the Introduction to Engineering and Design course, and also teaches courses in Science and Technology Studies such as the international history of the Internet, the history of science and race, and science fiction.

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Gunter W. Georgi New York University

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Gunter W. Georgi, a registered Professional Engineer, is an Industry Professor at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn, New York. Prof. Georgi is the course director for the Introduction to Engineering and Design course. He received his B.S. from Cooper Union and his M.S. and professional M.E. degrees from Columbia University. He has worked many years in the aerospace industry in design, analysis, and management functions. His most challenging task was the responsibility for the Thermal Mission Analysis of the Lunar Module from Project Apollo.

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Alyssa Marie D'Apice New York University

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Alyssa D’Apice is a fourth year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Chemical and Bio-molecular engineering at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn, New York. She is one of four head teaching assistants for the Introduction to Engineering and Design course where she manages over 100 student workers, making sure that the course moves seamlessly. While on campus, Alyssa has participated in varsity basketball, volleyball, and softball during her first two years and recently was part of a summer research program where she studied the effects of carbon dioxide and calcium on the viscosity of mucus to help cystic fibrosis patients.

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This evidence-based practice paper evaluates the effect of a teamwork agreement on efficacy in group-based projects at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Teamwork is an essential part of engineering education and the profession, but some students have a negative attitude towards group-based academic assignments. The paper addresses the typical topic of interest for first-year engineering programs related to advising first-year students on group work. One method for improving student attitudes towards group work, other than in-class team-based projects, is to provide a seminar on teamwork skills. Despite this training, some teams still fail to connect the concepts with practice. As a means of actively engaging students in the teamwork training, several sections of a first-year multidisciplinary engineering design course were required to create their own teamwork agreement with the assistance of the course instructor. The aim of the agreement was to connect the skills discussed in training and the application of these skills to the team-based course project. This agreement was then submitted to the instructor for use in handling teamwork problems during the semester, and students were encouraged to use the recitation instructional team to resolve any problems with teamwork if they occurred. This method was inspired by a common practice used by many engineering team-based capstone courses at the senior level. Teamwork agreements act as a contract between team members to fulfill their established duties. They take the form of a brief document outlining the team members’ responsibilities and expectations related to teamwork, not the course project. Control sections were used to evaluate if there was a difference between students who use the teamwork agreement and those who did not. Asking questions directly related to the teamwork agreement would result in stated preference data. Instead, asking revealed preference questions on attitudes towards teamwork allowed for an analysis of how the students benefited from the teamwork agreement assignment. Once the control study was completed, a before-after analysis was used to identify statistically significant differences for the treatment sections. A pre-class survey and post-class survey will indicate if the teamwork agreement had a uniformly positive impact. Most survey questions have Likert scale answers to clearly define the responses and enable statistical analysis. Although all students showed an improvement in their teamwork efficacy, the students who participated in the teamwork agreement showed significantly greater improvements.

Bringardner, J., & Leslie, C., & Georgi, G. W., & D'Apice, A. M. (2016, June), Improving Efficacy in Group Projects with Teamwork Agreements Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25614

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