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Teaching Communication And Teamwork In Engineering And Computer Science

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.935.1 - 6.935.11

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Paper Authors

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Elizabeth Berry

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Robert Lingard

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2330

Teaching Communication and Teamwork in Engineering and Computer Science

Elizabeth Berry, Robert Lingard California State University, Northridge


This paper describes a project in which Communication Studies pedagogy was incorporated into Software Engineering courses at California State University, Northridge. Responding to the needs of potential employers as well as the ABET 2000 criteria, faculty from the Departments of Communication Studies and Computer Science developed a variety of instructional strategies to enhance students’ ability to work in teams and maximize group effectiveness. The project involved specific instruction in group communication skills as part of the regular course of instruction, the administration of the Kolbe A TM Index, and assessment by students and instructors of the value of the team process and projects.

I. Introduction

Although it is commonly recognized by educators and scholars alike that to be successful in today’s workplace, high levels of teamwork and communication skills are necessary, instruction in these areas in Engineering and Computer Science is minimal, if undertaken at all. During the past four semesters, we have introduced students to the study of group process and have assessed the value of such instruction. In designated sections of Computer Science 380, "An Introduction to Software Engineering," we provided some specific, but limited instruction in group communication and administered the Kolbe A Index.1 The Kolbe A Index is an instrument that measures conation, or a person’s inherent talent or natural way of doing things and predicts what a person will or will not do, given the freedom to act. Widely used in the corporate world, the Kolbe A Index is valuable method for putting together synergistic teams.

Our experience has demonstrated the value of instruction in group process and the benefits of assigning students to teams based on their conative talents. An analysis of success of team projects over a two year period shows a statistically significant correlation between team synergy and scores on team projects. Furthermore, teams receiving specific instruction in communication skills also performed better and viewed the team projects more positively. Although this study was done in computer science courses, the results clearly suggest the applicability of these pedagogical methods to any course where communication and team building skills are important.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Berry, E., & Lingard, R. (2001, June), Teaching Communication And Teamwork In Engineering And Computer Science Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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