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The Development and Use of Moderated Engineering Teaming Exercises (METE)

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Machine Design Related

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


John A. Mirth St. Cloud State University

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John Mirth is an associate professor in the Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Department at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Prior to this, he had positions at the University of Denver, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the University of Iowa. He obtained his BSME degree from Ohio University and his MSME and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota.

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Background: This paper follows the development of a protocol for the implementation of Moderated Engineering Teaming Exercises (METE). The METE format is an interactive learning exercise designed to incorporate the use of structured teamworking within the natural flow of an upper-division engineering course. The paper follows the evolution of the METE format over three semesters in a junior level Machine Design course. Purpose: The objective of the METE format presented in this paper is to create an active teaming environment that can be practiced in a repetitive fashion. The name of the format defines the purpose: “Moderated” – team exercises are moderated by the course instructor with the ability for the instructor to step in or out of the team progress as necessary. “Engineering” – the format of the teams and the roles assigned to students are specific to the engineering discipline. “Teaming” – The format requires students to take on specific roles, execute those roles, and then combine their efforts into a joint team result. “Exercises” – The teaming efforts are built around the solution of weekly course problems to allow the format to fit smoothly into the natural flow of a course and provide the opportunity for students to go through a relatively large number of team cycles in a single course. The ultimate goal of the METE format is to naturally integrate teaming exercises into the flow of technical coursework.

Design Method: The METE format assigns students to teams consisting of 3-4 students (with 4 being the target number). Students are assigned to one of four roles in the team: Manager, Analyst, Designer, or Checker. Roles rotate each week, and teams are reassigned after every 4 weeks. Teams are given a weekly problem to solve. The problem is a comprehensive problem that typically tries to incorporate concepts from 2-3 class periods. Students are first given a generic problem statement (problem description, but with variables instead of specific numbers). The problem solution is initiated by the analyst and designer defining the equations and steps necessary to solve the problem. Once these are posted, the manager obtains specific values for the problem. The team takes turns calculating each solution step with the steps posted to a discussion board on the course learning management system (LMS). The checker is responsible for validating calculation results and affirming the final solution. The postings allow the instructor to moderate team progress and to verify full participation of team members. Team members are evaluated based on their ability to fulfill their individual roles as well as the ability of the team to reach a correct solution to the assigned problem. The effectiveness of the METE format is evaluated by a combination of the assessment of team member performance, and supported by student exit surveys regarding their team experiences.

Results: Student surveys rank the teamworking exercises as the most valuable contributor to student learning in the course. Grade assessment of the teaming exercises shows a relatively rapid learning curve as students move from poorly organized and inefficient teams at the start of the semester to well-functioning teams by the end of the semester. This is demonstrated in both the evaluation of individual roles within the team and the overall effectiveness of the team.

Mirth, J. A. (2021, July), The Development and Use of Moderated Engineering Teaming Exercises (METE) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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