June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.856.1 - 12.856.10
Improving Leadership and Communication Skills Using Department-Consistent Laboratory Team Experience
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah has implemented a coordinated team approach into the laboratory components of the required undergraduate Soil Mechanics, Hydraulics, and Materials courses to deliver team building experiences, develop accountability and leadership opportunities, and enhance written communication. The evolution of the approach required the initial cooperation and continued interaction of three faculty members. Preliminary assessment included comparison of pre- and post-implementation student laboratory reports, exit interviews, and post-semester surveys. Report comparison documented greater organization of technical content and fewer writing errors in reports produced after the approach was implemented. Student comments at exit interviews indicated the consistent report format guidelines enabled them to focus more effort on technical content and spend less time with tedious format requirements. The majority of students interviewed felt the report guidance and team leader activities were instrumental in their improved report writing and understanding of technical concepts. A majority (75% or more) of students responding to the post-semester surveys felt the team leadership activities made them more capable to delegate tasks, more confident in working with others, and more experienced managing team conflicts.
“In today’s global economy, technical competency is not enough; communication, project management, and leadership skills are becoming more important than ever”1. Not only would most engineering educators agree with this quote, but evidence points to strong student desire to learn communications, leadership, and management skills in addition to the technical competency they develop during their undergraduate education2. Because most undergraduate civil engineering curricula were developed with little consideration for incorporating communication, management, and leadership, addressing the emerging need has been accomplished with new courses3,4, special programs5, and creative teaching tactics. Many civil engineering departments do not have the luxury to introduce required courses into the curriculum; consequently, the importance of developing and implementing new teaching methods and educational activities into existing courses to address communications, teaming, management, and leadership is paramount6. Recent ideas include the use of role playing7 and the enhancement of team design experiences8. In this paper we present the approach developed at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah to introduce teaming and leadership activities into the laboratory components of the required undergraduate Soil Mechanics, Hydraulics, and Materials courses. Below we describe the approach, explain the faculty interaction required to implement the approach, and summarize preliminary assessment results.
Burian, S., & Romero, P., & Bartlett, S. (2007, June), Improving Leadership And Communication Skills Using Department Consistent Laboratory Team Experience Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1956
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