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Organizational Leadership And Effective Team Problem Solving Strategies In Engineering Design Projects: An Analysis Of Student Perceptions

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Design Projects in Mechanical Engineering I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.937.1 - 14.937.16



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Paper Authors

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Tony Jones United States Army

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Daisie Boettner United States Military Academy

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Joel Dillon United States Military Academy

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Stephanie Ivey

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Anna Lambert University of Memphis

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Brian Novoselich United States Military Academy

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Stephen Suhr United States Military Academy

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

Organizational Leadership and Effective Team Problem Solving Strategies in Engineering Design Projects: Analysis of Student Perceptions


As engineering educators, we seek to promote types of effective and satisfactory team experiences that will be required in professional practice. This project expands findings from a previous case study examining the perceptions of individual team members working within teams to determine each team’s processes of communication, problem solving, and leadership strategies used in Capstone Design projects. Our objectives in this study are to identify and categorize this perceptual data at both individual and team levels in order to identify any consistent factors or characteristics that may contribute to each group member’s perception of a shared experience.

Findings from a previous case study involving one team of Capstone Design students consistently indicated links between each team member’s perception of shared team experiences and the team’s overall levels of effectiveness. Based on these findings, it seems reasonable to conclude that analysis of perceptual data from a larger number of team members would yield increased levels of understanding of these interactions. For these reasons, this expanded study shared research questions similar to the original case study:

≠ How do individual members of Capstone Design Teams perceive and describe types/forms of team communication and collaboration? ≠ How do team members support their own perceptions? ≠ Does a relationship exist between team members’ perceptions of shared group experiences and the ability to transfer “lessons learned” from the design project to future leadership skills?

The results of this study further reinforced the findings of the previous case study. The success of an engineering capstone design project is influenced to a large degree by the perceptual alignment of the individual members of the team. Students’ perceptions regarding the level of communication and work distribution in a group are integral to group alignment and agreement. Instructors should understand these facts and take steps to both measure and influence student perceptions to promote group alignment. Additionally, groups that have a balanced attribution between external and internal factors and a balanced level of leadership have greater perceptual alignment as well.


This project presents the results of three case study examinations of individual group member’s perceptions of shared experiences as members of Engineering Capstone Design Teams over a period of two academic semesters, from Fall 2007 to Spring 2008. As engineering educators, we acknowledge the critical importance of effective problem solving teams and leadership skills. At the same time, we recognize the inherent difficulties associated with documenting and

Jones, T., & Boettner, D., & Dillon, J., & Ivey, S., & Lambert, A., & Novoselich, B., & Suhr, S. (2009, June), Organizational Leadership And Effective Team Problem Solving Strategies In Engineering Design Projects: An Analysis Of Student Perceptions Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5062

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