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Student Teams: A Simulation or a Real Team Experience?

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Project-Based, Inquiry Guided, and High Performance Learning Environments: Effective Approaches

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1341.1 - 22.1341.14

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Paper Authors


Joseph J. Biernacki Tennessee Technological University

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Joseph J. Biernacki is Professor of Chemical Engineering at Tennessee Technological University (TTU). His research interests include the kinetics, characterization and modeling of inorganic hydration reactions and their hydrate products as well as the pedagogy of critical thinking, problem solving, team training and how engineering students learn. Biernacki received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and his M.S. and DR.E. (Doctor of Engineering) degrees from Cleveland State University.

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Student teams, a simulation or a real team experience?The tradition in engineering placed students in teams during their senior year; likely as part of acapstone laboratory or design course. In most cases teams were done on a “pick your ownpartners” basis. Furthermore, no time was spent discussing teamwork, the importance of teams,how teams should be structured or the skill set one needs to be an effective team member. Tosome extent, changes made by ABET to their accreditation criteria in 2000 have forced theengineering community to at least assess student teamwork. This, in turn, has motivated many totake a serious look at teamwork training as part of what they teach. How to structure andprovide real team experiences for students as part of the academic course of study is a subject ofgreat importance. What do students know about teamwork coming in? What is their perceptionof the course-based team experience? Why are student teams frequently dysfunctional? Arecourse-based teams only a simulation or are they in actuality teams? These and other questionshave been explored along with ways to enable effective team-based learning experiences thatindeed help students grow as team members.

Biernacki, J. J. (2011, June), Student Teams: A Simulation or a Real Team Experience? Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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