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Matching Team Activities To Learning Objectives: A Theoretical Discussion Of The Role Of Goal Orientation

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1036.1 - 12.1036.10



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Paper Authors

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Stacee Harmon Oklahoma State University

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Wendy James Oklahoma State University

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Richard Bryant Oklahoma State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Matching Team Activities to Learning Objectives: A Theoretical Discussion of the Role of Goal Orientation


Engineering courses can typically be arranged into one of two categories: content area courses and design courses. While the acquisition of conceptual knowledge is an intrinsic objective of a content area course, this objective is sometimes extrinsic to a design course. Conversely, in design, the intrinsic objectives are usually teamwork skills and development of technical proficiencies. Recently there has been a move toward bringing laboratory-based activities into content area classrooms to enrich learning. The purpose of this paper is to investigate course design in view of student goal orientation and the attributional theory of motivation.

In social cognition theory, an individual’s goal orientation is seen to greatly influence his willingness to accept a challenge and to persist when faced with difficulties. The types of team activities employed in a classroom foster either a performance-goal oriented or learning-goal oriented learning environment. In a group project, students divide a large task into individually manageable parts, much like practicing engineers do in industry. This type of activity has an inherent performance goal, the creation of a functional end product. On the other hand, cooperative team projects focus on mastery or learning goals. All of the students on a team work together on a single task, and the students help each other so that everyone seeks understanding of each concept.

The conclusion is made that group projects are effective in meeting the learning objectives in design courses due to their inherent performance goal orientation, while cooperative team projects meet the learning objectives in content area courses due to their inclination toward learning goals. Understanding how the design of learning tasks affects students’ goal orientation enables an instructor to match team activities to desired learning outcomes and to create an environment which promotes the desired type of goal orientation.


When some engineering faculty implement student-centered instructional methods such as cooperative learning and problem-based learning strategies in their classrooms, other faculty sometimes voice concerns that not all of the students learn all of the material to the fullest extent. As a result, some have expressed a desire for engineering education research investigating the effect of group-based instruction on the skills of individual students.1

Any classroom atmosphere represents a complex interplay between the instructor’s teaching strategies and the student’s approaches to learning. How a student is motivated when approaching a task is influenced by many factors, such as their unique prior experiences and self efficacy beliefs, and their parents’ beliefs and goals.2 This

Harmon, S., & James, W., & Bryant, R. (2007, June), Matching Team Activities To Learning Objectives: A Theoretical Discussion Of The Role Of Goal Orientation Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2602

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