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Improving Team Learning in Systems Design

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

SE Capstone Design Projects, Part II

Tagged Divisions

Systems Engineering and Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.838.1 - 22.838.9



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Paper Authors


Colin J. Neill Pennsylvania State University, Great Valley

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Colin J. Neill, associate professor of software and systems engineering and associate division head of engineering and information science, earned his Ph.D. in software and systems engineering, M.Sc. in communication systems, and B.Eng. in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Wales, Swansea, United Kingdom. He is the author of over sixty articles on software and systems design, architecture, and team effectiveness and serves as associate editor-in-chief of Innovations in Software and Systems Engineering.

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Joanna F. DeFranco Pennsylvania State University

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Joanna F. DeFranco, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Software Engineering in the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. Prior to entering academia she worked in industry and government as a software and electronics engineer. Her research interests include problem solving in software and systems design, team learning, and project management.

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Improving Team Learning in Systems Design Colin J Neill and Joanna F DeFranco Engineering Division School of Graduate Professional Studies Pennsylvania State UniversityA detailed statistical experiment to study the effect of the cognitive collaborative model (CCM)on learning has been designed. The subjects are collaboratively solving an analysis and designproblem in a graduate engineering course. In previous experiments, we showed the benefits ofthe CCM in improving engineering team performance and investigated the mechanisms thatfacilitate this improvement. The CCM is a six-stage cognitive model that takes intoconsideration the cognitive and social activities that occur during collaborative problem solvingby facilitating problem formulation, solution planning, and system design tasks duringcollaboration. While facilitating collaboration within teams has long been seen as advantageous,the CCM model prescribes tactics to employ to ensure that collaboration. In the first twoexperiments we showed the use of the CCM created a better understanding within the team of theproblem they were tackling, and thus improved the project outcomes for that team. In the thirdexperiment we sought to identify why those teams using the CCM performed better,hypothesizing that the CCM facilitates the forming of a shared, or team, mental model which hasbeen identified, in the extant literature, as a necessary factor in high-performing teams [1].In this fourth experiment, randomly assigned teams of students were presented with one of fourdesign problems. Half the teams were then exposed to the CCM while the remaining half wasnot. The effect on student learning will be measured using a five-item scale developed byEdmondson and later adapted by Nandkeolyar (2008).[1] DeFranco, J.F., Neill, C.J., Clariana, R.B., “A Cognitive Collaborative Model To Improve Performance inEngineering Teams – A Study of Team Outcomes and Mental Model Sharing”, Systems EngineeringJournal, Volume 14, No 3, 2011.[2] Nandkeolyer, A. K., “How Do Teams Learn? Shared Mental Models and Transactive Memory Systemsas Determinants of Team Learning and Effectiveness”, Dissertation – University of Iowa, 2008.

Neill, C. J., & DeFranco, J. F. (2011, June), Improving Team Learning in Systems Design Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18119

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