Asee peer logo A Proposal for an Online Tool for Team Building and Assessment

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Design Tools and Methodology I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1096.1 - 25.1096.13

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Paper Authors


Nathan Delson University of California, San Diego

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Nathan Delson’s interests include mechatronics, biomedical devices, human-machine interfaces, and engineering education. He is Co-founder and Past President of Coactive Drive Corp., which develops novel actuators and control methods for use in force feedback human interfaces. Medical device projects include an instrumented mannequin and laryngoscope for expert skill acquisition and airway intubation training. He received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from University of California, San Diego, and then went on to get a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. He was a lecturer and Director of the Design Studio at Yale University for four years, and then returned to his alma matter, UC, San Diego, in 1999. He is now a tenured lecturer and Director of the Design Center in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He teaches hands-on design courses including an introductory design class, a mechatronics class, and a capstone design class. His interests in design education include increasing student motivation, teamwork, and integration of theory into design projects.

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Abstract A Proposal for an On-Line Tool for Team Building and AssessmentTeamwork is a critical engineering skill, yet many instructors are not experts in the field and arehesitant to get involved in addressing team problems. Numerous courses have a mechanism forstudents to rate the performance of their teammates. However, these assessments typically occurat the end of the course for rewarding strong team performance and penalizing underperformers.However, this reward/punishment approach is limited in its ability to improve team performancein the middle of the project, especially since some students are not aware of their weaknesses.The approach presented here is to use a teammate peer review that is implemented in the middleof the project and at the end. In addition, the teammate peer review includes specific and detailedfeedback to each student. One of the logistical challenges of implementing a teammate review isthat the information from individual students needs to be kept confidential, and compiled resultsof each teammate needs to be conveyed to the proper recipient.This logistical challange has led us to develop an on-line teammate peer review program. Whena student logs into this system they are shown a screen with their teammates names. Theyquantitatively rate each teammate in a number of categories and also provide comments on areasof strength and weaknesses (as well as private comments to the instructor). When all teammateshave completed the peer review, the system automatically averages the quantitative feedback andcompiles the comments, which are then individually emailed to each student.Due to the ease of implementation, the on-line peer review can be implemented multiple times inwithin a course. The intermediate peer review brings to the forefront teamwork problems earlyon. Issues can range from uninvolved students to over-dominant ones. In most cases of minornegative peer reviews, the students automatically correct their own performance. With moresignificant issues instructors or TAs are alerted early on, and can meet with students to avoidproblems from becoming even more significant. This on-line peer review program has beenimplemented for over 5 years in an introductory design class with 200 students and in seniorlevel design courses with 80 students. In our implementation we have chosen to use theintermediate peer review for informational feedback only, yet the final peer review has asignificant impact on student grades.Implementing the peer review on-line opens up the possibility for statistical analysis ofteamwork, since all the data is automatically recorded. We were able to quantitatively show howstudents improve teamworking ability between the introductory course and capstone course. Inaddition, we use the quantitative results from our capstone design course for ABET assessmentof our students ability to work effectively in teams.A limiting factor of wider adaptation of our on-line tool is that the user interface and back-endrobustness needs improvement. This article is a call for participation to join in an effort to build arobust systems based upon the varying needs of a wide range of instructors. We have apreliminary URL name, "", inspired by the site.We envision a system that will allow instructors to easily upload student lists and initiate teampeer reviews when needed. Individual student feedback would be kept confidential, andcompiled results would only be sent to the appropriate recipient. This site could also provideguidance to instructors and students on how to improve teamwork, resolve conflicts, and formeffective teams. We would like to join together with other faculty to build a self-sustainingsystem that is available to all.

Delson, N. (2012, June), A Proposal for an Online Tool for Team Building and Assessment Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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