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Interpersonal Interactions in Engineering Teams: Findings from a Multi-year Mixed Methods Study at Three Institutions

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Student Learning 3

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

12

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34869

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34869

Download Count

122

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Paper Authors

biography

Héctor Enrique Rodríguez-Simmonds Purdue University at West Lafayette

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Raised in South Florida, born in Mexico. Half Colombian and half Mexican; proud Mexilombian. Héctor acquired an MS in Computer Engineering and is a PhD candidate in Engineering Education, both at Purdue University. His research interests are investigating the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in engineering and tapping into critical methodologies and methods for conducting and analyzing research.

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Tara C. Langus University of Nevada, Reno

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Tara C. Langus is a Ph.D. student pursuing her degree in STEM Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her research interests include the integration of socioscientific and sociopolitical issues in the college STEM classroom and increasing the representation and retention of underrepresented minorities in STEM. Prior to graduate school, she completed Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Biology in which she studied insect immunology and chemical ecology.

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Nelson S. Pearson University of Nevada, Reno

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Nelson Pearson is an Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research interest includes, social networks and the integration of diverse populations, engineering culture as well as engineering pedagogy. His education includes a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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Justin Charles Major Purdue University at West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3111-8509

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Justin C. Major is a fourth-year Ph.D Candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Purdue University Engineering Education Program. As an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Justin completed Bachelor's degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Secondary Mathematics Education with an informal emphasis in engineering education. Through his involvement in the UNR PRiDE Research Lab and engagement with the UNR and Northern Nevada STEM Education communities, he studied student motivation, active learning, and diversity; developed K-12 engineering education curriculum; and advocated for socioeconomically just access to STEM education. As a Ph.D. Candidate with the STRiDE Research Lab at Purdue University, Justin's dissertation research focuses on the study of Intersectionality Theory and the intersectionality of socioeconomic inequality in engineering education, use of critical quantitative methodology and narrative inquiry to understand the complex stories of engineering students from traditionally minoritized backgrounds, and the pursuit of a socioeconomically just engineering education.

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Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6344-5072

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Adam Kirn is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on the interactions between engineering cultures, student motivation, and their learning experiences. His projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers, their problem solving processes, and cultural fit. His education includes a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Bioengineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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Allison Godwin Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE) Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0741-3356

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Allison Godwin, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focuses what factors influence diverse students to choose engineering and stay in engineering through their careers and how different experiences within the practice and culture of engineering foster or hinder belongingness and identity development. Dr. Godwin graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education. Her research earned her a National Science Foundation CAREER Award focused on characterizing latent diversity, which includes diverse attitudes, mindsets, and approaches to learning, to understand engineering students’ identity development. She has won several awards for her research including the 2016 American Society of Engineering Education Educational Research and Methods Division Best Paper Award and the 2018 Benjamin J. Dasher Best Paper Award for the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. She has also been recognized for the synergy of research and teaching as an invited participant of the 2016 National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium and the Purdue University 2018 recipient of School of Engineering Education Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the 2018 College of Engineering Exceptional Early Career Teaching Award.

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Abstract

A key learning outcome in engineering is the ability to work in collaborative and inclusive teams. As engineering becomes a more global endeavor, this outcome becomes even more important to undergraduate engineering education. However, research shows both positive and negative findings for putting students into diverse teams. Some research indicates positive findings of increased divergent thinking, idea generation, higher quality products, and increased productivity. Other research findings discuss sustained conflict in teams, decreased affect, and increased frustration. Literature deepening the discussion regarding diverse teaming has also grown more nuanced involving discussions of the role of faculty on diverse teaming and student’s experiences, the level of independence and support given to diverse engineering teams, and questioning of the hierarchical structures of engineering teams.

This research examines how diverse students (i.e., race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, first-generation, international) interact in teams to provide better support for building students’ inclusive and collaborative teaming competencies. This multiphase mixed methods study was conducted in three different university contexts: a large Midwestern land-grant research-intensive university, a large Western land-grant institution, and a small private religiously affiliated engineering school that has been recognized for its efforts in working to create an inclusive environment. In this project, we answer the research questions: 1) What changes occur in students’ diversity sensitivity, multicultural effectiveness, and engineering practices as a result of working in diverse teams? 2) How do students’ perceptions of diversity, affect, and engineering practices change when they work on diverse teams?

Overall our results indicate that engineering students come in with high levels of belonging to the field and that over their time enrolled in a first-semester first-year engineering course students norm to cultural practices. At our first institution we observed that students need guidance during team norming phase for them to enact more inclusive teaming practices such as getting to know each other beyond visible differences, facilitating deeper socialization, increasing team trust, and allowing greater role selection. At our second institution we found that belonging is high for first-year engineering students and is associated with finishing engineering projects. Students’ belonging is correlated with their tendency to socialize with other students, but tendency to socialize goes away over time. This finding indicates that students exert additional efforts at being social to foster their belongingness. Our most recent results at the third institution show that belongingness is also high for first-year students. We found that institutional efforts do not always translate into inclusive teaming practices. For example, classroom-level and university-level belonging were high and correlated with each other but did not translate to specific actions in teaming environments.

The results of this multi-year project indicate the need to continue to develop curricula to support students’ understanding of diversity and inclusion within engineering classrooms as well as provide structured instruction on how to engage in teams. Often, students are placed into teams (sometimes intentionally based on evidence-based practices and other times randomly) without much effort into the education of students in these teams. We have developed initial curricula implemented with over 5,500 students from the results of this project, which we are testing for its effectiveness in improving student teaming outcomes.

Rodríguez-Simmonds, H. E., & Langus, T. C., & Pearson, N. S., & Major, J. C., & Kirn, A., & Godwin, A. (2020, June), Interpersonal Interactions in Engineering Teams: Findings from a Multi-year Mixed Methods Study at Three Institutions Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34869

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