June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Educational Research and Methods
12.1296.1 - 12.1296.15
Spontaneous Groups versus Long-Term Teams: An Investigation using Complex Problem Solving in a First-Year Engineering Course
ABET requires that engineering graduates be able to work on multi-disciplinary teams and apply mathematics and science when solving engineering problems. One manner of integrating teamwork and engineering contexts in a first-year foundation engineering course is through the use of Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) – realistic, client-driven problems based on the models and modeling theoretical framework. This study looks at the quality of student team solutions to Model-Eliciting Activities and team effectiveness, specifically interdependency (cooperation among team members to accomplish a task), goal-setting (team sets outcome goals and sub-goals to accomplish tasks), and potency (shared belief that team members can accomplish their goals) when teams were spontaneously formed versus teams that had been working together previously.
Teaming and group work in engineering education are becoming more common. Agencies like The National Research Council Board on Engineering Education, NSF Engineering Education Coalition Program, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology1 Engineering Criteria 2000 have been instrumental in this curriculum shift. As engineering instructors become more comfortable implementing student collaboration in the classroom, questions begin to arise regarding which is the best framework for organizing this collaboration. This study begins to addresses the question of whether to use long-term teams or adhoc groups. The specific research question guiding this study is: How do student groups perform on model-eliciting activities if the groups are assembled spontaneously versus long-term assignments?
For the purposes herein, it is important to distinguish between a “team” and a “group.” For a collection of people to be a team requires that a diverse set of individuals come together as a cohesive unit with a common goal. Guzzo2 defines teams as “a group that consists of individuals who see themselves and are seen by others as a social entity, which is interdependent because of the tasks performed as members of a group. They are part of the educational process, performing tasks that affect both individual and group learning.” Research has identified the theoretical construct for effective teams in terms of interdependency, goal setting, and potency. Teams that demonstrate interdependency have cooperation among team members to accomplish a task2. Goal setting is the ability of a team to set goals and sub-goals to accomplish a task 3, and potency is the shared belief by a team that they can be effective4. These characteristics distinguish “teams” from the broader term “groups.” By working cooperatively using teaming theory as a guide for skill development, students can be motivated toward the goal of performance on problem-solving tasks5.
The educational setting for this study is a first-year introductory engineering course at Purdue University, Engineering Problem Solving and Computer Tools (ENGR 106), which focuses on
Moore, T., & Diefes-Dux, H., & Imbrie, P. (2007, June), Spontaneous Groups Versus Long Term Teams: An Investigation Using Complex Problem Solving In A First Year Engineering Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2924
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