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Supporting Diversity in Teams Through Asset Mapping

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Diversity and Global Experiences

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jamie Gomez University of New Mexico

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Jamie Gomez, Ph.D., is a Lecturer Title III in the department of Chemical & Biological Engineering (CBE) at the University of New Mexico. She is a co- Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Professional Formation of Engineers: Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (PFE: RIEF) for the project- Using Digital Badging and Design Challenge Modules to Develop Professional Identity. She is a member of the department’s ABET and Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, as well as faculty advisor for several student societies. She is the instructor of several courses in the CBE curriculum including the Material and Energy Balances, junior laboratories and Capstone Design courses. She is associated with several professional organizations including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and American Society of Chemical Engineering Education (ASEE) where she adopts and contributes to innovative pedagogical methods aimed at improving student learning and retention.

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Vanessa Svihla University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Vanessa Svihla is a learning scientist and assistant professor at the University of New Mexico in the Organization, Information & Learning Sciences program, and in the Chemical & Biological Engineering Department. She served as Co-PI on an NSF RET Grant and a USDA NIFA grant, and is currently co-PI on three NSF-funded projects in engineering and computer science education, including a Revolutionizing Engineering Departments project. She was selected as a National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Svihla studies learning in authentic, real world conditions; this includes a two-strand research program focused on (1) authentic assessment, often aided by interactive technology, and (2) design learning, in which she studies engineers designing devices, scientists designing investigations, teachers designing learning experiences and students designing to learn.

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While industry values teamwork and research suggests that diverse teams are more creative [1], there is limited understanding of how to support students to learn to work in such teams. We conducted a design-based research study to investigate how an asset-mapping activity could help team members to value each other’s contributions in chemical engineering design projects. As part of our ongoing effort to redesign the curriculum to better support diverse students to persist in chemical engineering, we have been guided by the notion of building on students’ assets and seeing their potential, rather than focusing on their deficits [2], [3]. We extended this notion by investigating how to help students see the assets they and their teammates bring. We report on student progress in a sophomore-level material and energy balance course (n= 63 in 10 teams) and a capstone chemical engineering design course (n= 53 in 12 teams) at a large, Hispanic-serving research university in the Southwest. The sophomores had prior design experience, as they were in a cohort that began after the curriculum had been redesigned to incorporate design challenges throughout the core chemical engineering coursework. The seniors did not have prior design experience within the curriculum. Both courses stressed the importance of teamwork and engaged students in working on design challenges. Students completed a two-part activity: They first identified their own assets and the assets of their teammates. They were then guided to map the assets across their team members and critically evaluate areas of strength and weakness. To aid them on the second portion, we provided a list of specific skills valued in professional engineering practice. In this paper, we focus on professional communication, project management, and interpersonal / teamwork skills. We collected all student work related to the activity. We developed a coding scheme to analyze the qualitative data and conducted basic statistics (correlations and t-tests) to analyze quantitative data. The two areas that fewer students reported having skills were in project management and communication, particularly communicating outside of engineering. Overall, the sophomores tended to report similar numbers of team members with each professional skill as the seniors. Whereas the seniors could clearly distinguish between the professional skill areas, the sophomores were not adept at this. To understand the impact of the team asset-mapping activity, we compared the sophomores’ scores on items from a peer evaluation conducted twice during the semester. Early in the semester, students tended to report some difficulty managing conflicts related to team tasks, but by the end of the semester, significantly fewer teams did so. We also describe an asset-based modification we made to the teams in the senior capstone class.

Gomez, J., & Svihla, V. (2018, June), Supporting Diversity in Teams Through Asset Mapping Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31034

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