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Mitigating Chemical Engineering Design Team Miscommunications with Knowledge of Myers-Briggs Type

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Design, Creativity and Critical Thinking in the Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.909.1 - 24.909.19



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Paper Authors


Kathryn F. Trenshaw University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16

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Kathryn Trenshaw is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University’s Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning. She received her B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri in 2009, and her M.S. (2011) and Ph.D. (2014) in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; supporting diversity in STEM fields with an emphasis on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) students; and using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to improve students’ communication skills during group work.

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Troy J. Vogel University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Troy J. Vogel is a lecturer in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He teaches Process Design, a senior level course. In addition to formal teaching, Dr. Vogel acts as the adviser for the Illinois Chapter of AIChE and AIChE's Chem-E-Car competition. Dr. Vogel also plays an active role in various summer camps fostering a desire to learn science and engineering in all of today’s youth.

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Mitigating Chemical Engineering Design Team Miscommunications with Knowledge of Myers-Briggs TypeThe differences between successful and unsuccessful engineering teams seem quite stark onpaper. The quality of deliverables like presentations or reports, the interactions of the teammembers, and the value of questions asked to instructors become increasingly worse as teamscollapse. But are these teams really so different from their more successful peers? And what caninstructors and the teams themselves do to mitigate difficulties and avoid complete teambreakdown? To answer these questions, we investigated the engineering teams in the Fall 2012offering of Process Design (CHBE 431). We assessed the possibility that the differences, ratherthan being due to team demographics or GPA discrepancies, were actually due to minutepersonality type differences among team members. In CHBE 431, teams are made up ofrandomly selected students with specific attention paid not to isolate female students (Oakley,Felder, Brent, & Elhajj, 2004). Teams have approximately uniform average GPA such that noteam is made up of all 2.0 students or all 4.0 students, which limits the possibility that theaverage GPA of the team is an important factor in team success. We gave students the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) (Myers, McCaulley, Quenk, & Hammer, 1998) at the beginningof the course, but did not reveal their types to them so that they would not modify their behaviorbased on that knowledge. Throughout the course, the instructor kept notes on student interactionsduring team meetings and presentations. At the end of the course, we analyzed the instructor’steam interaction notes, the students’ peer evaluations of one another, and samples of studentwork for evidence of MBTI type-related difficulties over the course of the semester. We foundthat teams experienced difficulties related to all four of the MBTI dichotomies, withmisunderstandings related to the Judging/Perceiving dichotomy proving to be most detrimentalto team success, both perceived and actual. Based on our results, we recommend familiarizingstudents in their first year engineering courses with their MBTI type and the differences betweeneach of the four dichotomies. Knowledge of their MBTI type and the types of others, as well asthe different ways in which individuals function may mitigate the minute miscommunicationsrelated to type that contribute to the unexplained failure of some engineering teams.Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of Student Centered Learning, 2 (1), 9-34.Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A.L. (1998). MBTI manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® instrument. (3rd ed.) Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.The presenter would prefer to present a poster.

Trenshaw, K. F., & Vogel, T. J. (2014, June), Mitigating Chemical Engineering Design Team Miscommunications with Knowledge of Myers-Briggs Type Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22842

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