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Peer Feedback on Teamwork Behaviors: Reactions and Intentions to Change

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Professional Skills development in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Julia Smith University of Calgary

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Julia is a M.Sc. candidate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of Calgary, supervised by Dr. Thomas O’Neill. Her research interests include the study of factors impacting teamwork and leadership capabilities.

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Genevieve Hoffart University of Calgary

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Genevieve is a first year M.Sc. student under the supervision of Dr. Thomas O'Neill at the University of Calgary focusing on at team dynamics, training, and communication. She has been working with the Schulich School of Engineering for the past four years during which time her focus has been on improving team dynamics and maximizing the student experience. In addition co-developing a communication training framework that has now been applied to over 3500 students campus wide, Genevieve has personally facilitated many of the training sessions. Her goal is to continue working on developing applicable and universal tools to improve the experience and functioning of student teams in institutions across North America.

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Tom O'Neill University of Calgary

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O'Neill is a Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology and a leading expert in the areas of team dynamics, virtual teams, conflict management, personality, and assessment. He is director of the Individual and Team Performance Lab and the Virtual Team Performance, Innovation, and Collaboration Lab at the University of Calgary, which was built through a $500K Canada Foundation for Innovation Infrastructure Grant. He also holds operating grants of over $300K to conduct leading-edge research on virtual team effectiveness. Over the past 10 years, Tom has worked with organizations in numerous industries, including oil and gas, healthcare, technology, and venture capitals. He is currently engaged with the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary to train, develop, and cultivate soft-skill teamwork competencies in order to equip graduates with strong interpersonal and communication capabilities.

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Peer Feedback on Teamwork Behaviors: Reactions and Intentions to Change

This evidence-based practice paper considers the use of an online assessment platform that can be used in engineering student teams to improve teamwork skills through the use of peer feedback. The emphasis on collaboration for careers in industry means that the ability to work effectively in a team is one that all engineers must possess upon graduation to meet accreditation standards (1). Therefore, educational institutions must emphasize interpersonal skills in addition to technical abilities to equip students for success. Past research has shown that peer feedback has a positive impact on performance (2), as students apply this feedback towards adapting their behaviors.

As the importance of utilizing peer feedback has been established in the research, the next step is to employ a tool that can be used to collect this information. To best encourage participation and response accuracy, the right tool must be selected: the ideal tool is user-friendly, psychometrically strong, and well-received by students and researchers alike. This paper discusses the use of one such tool and its ability to meet the aforementioned demands.

This platform is an online tool that provides user-friendly assessments accessible to all with an Internet connection. The tool offers a variety of assessments, amongst which is a peer feedback assessment. Following completion of the assessment, students are automatically provided with a comprehensive report highlighting their strengths and areas for improvement.

In this study, students in a second-year undergraduate engineering program at a Canadian university were asked to complete a peer feedback assessment. Students answered a variety of questions previously validated in the literature (3) rating their peers on their teamwork capabilities. Students were also asked to answer questions regarding the usability of the tool, the accuracy of their teammates’ feedback, and their intentions to change their teamwork behaviors based on this feedback- previous research has shown that if students express an intention to modify a behaviour, it can reasonably be expected that their future behavior will reflect that intention (4). Items were scored on a 5-point Likert-type scale (ranging from 1 = to no extent to 5 = to a great extent).

The results found that students responded positively to the use of this tool, indicating high satisfaction with the usability of the tool (9-item scale, α = .87, M = 4.08, SD = .91) and confidence in the accuracy of the feedback (6-item scale, α = .57, M = 3.63, SD = 1.03). Furthermore, students expressed intentions to change their behavior based on their feedback (10-item scale, α = .88, M = 3.76, SD = .97). Based on these findings, we concluded that students are open to receiving peer feedback and generally believed their peers’ perceptions to be accurate. Additionally, students are interested in improving their teamwork skills based on their feedback, which highlights the value of including peer feedback assessments in educational team settings to build soft skills. Taken together, this research provides empirical support for the use of this online tool for encouraging soft skill development and suggests that its use in engineering classrooms should be expanded in order to capitalize on its utility.


1. Criteria for accrediting engineering programs, 2015-2016. (n.d.) In Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Retrieved from

2. M. Donia, T. A. O’Neill and S. Brutus, (under review). Peer feedback increases team member performance, 
confidence, and work outcomes: A longitudinal study. Paper submitted to the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

3. Ohland, M., Loughry, M. L., Woehr, D. J., Bullard, L. G., Felder, R. M., Finelli, C. J….Schmucker, D. G. (2012). The comprehensive assessment of team member effectiveness: Development of a behaviorally anchored rating scale for self- and peer evaluation. Academy of Management, 11, 609-630. doi:10.5465/amle.2010.0177

4. Wood, C., Conner, M., Miles, E., Sandberg, T., Taylor, N., Godin, G., & Sheeran, P. (2015). The impact of asking intention or self-prediction questions on subsequent behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1088868315592334

Smith, J., & Hoffart, G., & O'Neill, T. (2016, June), Peer Feedback on Teamwork Behaviors: Reactions and Intentions to Change Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25870

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