New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Minorities in Engineering and Women in Engineering
Diversity and ASEE Diversity Committee
Teamwork in Engineering Undergraduate Classes: What problems do students experience?
While teamwork is commonly integrated into engineering programs, it often discourages women and minorities. The purpose of the current research is to better understand what teamwork problems women and minorities most frequently encounter and the resources they currently have for solving these problems. The researchers report findings from a two-part study. In Part I, 677 engineering undergraduates at three different universities responded to a survey asking to what extent they had experienced different types of team problems in their STEM classes in the past year. 85% of participants reported they had at least one problem, the most common being a “slacker teammate.” Additionally, women were significantly more likely than men to report problems with feeling like they experienced limited learning because of their role on the team, and both women and under-represented minorities were significantly more likely than other groups to report being excluded from the main work of the team and having a domineering teammate.
To complement and further illuminate the survey results, Part II describes interviews with 63 undergraduates from seven different universities, where the researchers asked participants about problems they encountered during their engineering curriculum and to comment on problem scenarios. Findings suggest that students often lack resources for effectively solving team problems, though “high achieving” students, defined as having a self-reported GPA of 3.5 or above, are often more proactive when dealing with slacker teammates, using strategies such as setting early deadlines or selecting teammates known also to be high achievers. However, across the board, students preferred to “do nothing” when dealing with domineering or exclusionary teammates.
These findings shed light on the disproportionate burden women and under-represented minorities face in team projects and the lack of resources students have, pointing to a need for interventions to teach problem-solving skills.
Wolfe, J., & Powell, E. A., & Schlisserman, S., & Kirshon, A. (2016, June), Teamwork in Engineering Undergraduate Classes: What Problems Do Students experience? Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26069
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