Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
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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