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Senior Capstone Team Formation Based on Project Interest: Team Selection by Students Compared with Team Selection by Instructors

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Design Teams 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

19

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35187

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35187

Download Count

99

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Paper Authors

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Peter Schuster California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Peter Schuster earned a B.A. in Physics from Cornell University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University. He worked at Ford Motor Company as a design engineer and technical specialist for ten years before transitioning into academia. He is currently a professor in Mechanical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he coordinates the capstone design program. His research interests include design theory, stress analysis, and biomechanics.

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Lauren Anne Cooper California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Lauren Cooper earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with a research emphasis in Engineering Education from University of Colorado Boulder. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Her research interests include project-based learning, student motivation, human-centered design, and the role of empathy in engineering teaching and learning.

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Eltahry Elghandour California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Eltahry Elghandour, Associate professor in Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the Mechanical Design Department of the University of Helwan, Cairo, Egypt in 1989. He later earned his Philosophy of Doctor in Engineering degree from the Mechanical Engineering Department at University of Helwan, Cairo, Egypt in 1995. His expertise is in composite Materials analysis and manufacture, fatigue
and fracture mechanics, and advanced finite element analysis.

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Eileen W. Rossman P.E. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Eileen Rossman has a worked in various industries for over 14 years before starting a career teaching engineering. Here industry experience includes field support for Navy Nuclear refueling with Westinghouse, analysis and programming of pipeline flow solutions with Stoner Associates, and design of elevator structures and drive components with Schindler Elevator.

Since 2002, Eileen has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University. Her teaching experience includes Basic and Intermediate Fluids, Basic and Intermediate Dynamics, Statics, Machine Design, and Thermal Measurements.

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Sarah Harding California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Sarah Harding is a member of the Mechanical Engineering faculty at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, teaching a variety of design related courses. Previous to joining Cal Poly, Sarah worked in the automotive industry as a chassis engineer and quality manager.

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Brian P. Self California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Brian Self obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Utah. He worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. Brian has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo since 2006. During the 2011-2012 academic year he participated in a professor exchange, teaching at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. His engineering education interests include collaborating on the Dynamics Concept Inventory, developing model-eliciting activities in mechanical engineering courses, inquiry-based learning in mechanics, and design projects to help promote adapted physical activities. Other professional interests include aviation physiology and biomechanics.

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Abstract

One of the greatest challenges with a year-long senior design project is team formation. A number of different techniques for this have been described in the literature (see Barkley et al, 2014 for review), including random assignment, allowing the students to self-select, and having the instructor assign teams. Assigning teams in large courses (e.g., 50 projects and 160 students) is logistically challenging (Agarwal et al, 2017) and students are sometimes unhappy with their assigned team and/or project. Computerized algorithms (www.catme.org) have been developed to maximize instructor-defined parameters, including diversity, GPA, times available, and different skill sets, (Layton, et al, 2010) but students still lack agency in their final team assignments. In the past, we had students submit forms stating project interests, skills, time availability, and team preferences, then faculty members formed teams to maximize project interest while considering other factors. Believing that choice is the primary factor in student motivation (Dutson et al, 1997), and that this motivation will lead to the highest team performance, last year we utilized the Mingling Method described by Aller et al (2008). For these student-formed teams, students ranked projects and listed skills before coming to lab. They then placed nametags on their 1st (red) & 2nd (blue) choice projects on posters around a room, and spoke with others on each project. Students then moved nametags as needed to form teams with the required skills and team size, and occasionally faculty intervened to adjust team sizes.

Our research questions were: (a) What is the best way to consider student’s interests when forming teams, while also integrating research-based team-forming strategies? and (b) How does the team-forming approach affect student experiences, student learning, and project outcomes? By comparing two different approaches to forming teams in our large year-long senior project course, we hope to gather data to guide future team-forming strategies. Here, we present data about team diversity, team dynamics, and student satisfaction. • Team Diversity. Hypothesis: Allowing students to form their own teams might result in more homogeneous teams. This did not occur. While the ethnic diversity was lower with self-teaming, the gender diversity increased. However, both trends mirrored the change in class demographics. • Team Dynamics. Hypothesis: Allowing students to form their own teams might reduce team friction. This did not occur. Students who self-teamed are slightly more critical of their teammates than those who were formed by faculty. • Student Satisfaction. Hypothesis: Allowing students to form their own teams might improve their project and team satisfaction. This was only observed in initial project satisfaction, and that improvement disappeared by the end of the first quarter. Team satisfaction was unaffected by the teaming process.

The results so far are inconclusive: The differences between the two approaches are small. Given that the process for self-forming was new this year and the faculty-formed process has had many years of refinement, it is possible the observed differences are merely part of the learning curve. The results so far do not include team performance (project success) and the effect of the teaming process on the students’ emotional state. These will be included in future work.

References

Agrawal, V. and Jariwala, A. "Web-based Tools For Supporting Student-driven Capstone Design Team Formation." ASEE (2017). Aller, B. e tal. "Capstone project team formation: Mingling increases performance and motivation." Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education 6.2 (2008): 503-507. Barkley, E., et al. Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. John Wiley & Sons, 2014. Dutson, A., et al. "A review of literature on teaching engineering design through project‐oriented capstone courses." Journal of Engineering Education 86.1 (1997): 17-28. Layton, R., et al. "Design and Validation of a Web-Based System for Assigning Members to Teams Using Instructor-Specified Criteria." Advances in Engineering Education (2010).

Schuster, P., & Cooper, L. A., & Elghandour, E., & Rossman, E. W., & Harding, S., & Self, B. P. (2020, June), Senior Capstone Team Formation Based on Project Interest: Team Selection by Students Compared with Team Selection by Instructors Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35187

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