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The Influence of Feedback on Teamwork and Professional Skills in an Authentic Process Development Project

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Assessment of Student Learning 2

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1216.1 - 23.1216.24



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Paper Authors


Debra Gilbuena Oregon State University

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Debra Gilbuena is a PhD Candidate in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. She currently has research focused on student learning in virtual laboratories. Debra has an MBA, an MS, and 4 years of industrial experience including a position in sensor development, an area in which she holds a patent. Her dissertation is focused on the characterization and analysis of feedback in engineering education. She also has interests in the diffusion of effective educational interventions and practices.

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Audrey Briggs Champagne University at Albany, SUNY

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Please note I am Professor Emerita

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Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He currently has research activity in areas related to thin film materials processing and engineering education. He is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. Koretsky is a six-time Intel Faculty Fellow and has won awards for his work in engineering education at the university and national levels.

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The Influence of Feedback on Teamwork and Professional Skills in an Authentic Process Development ProjectWhile few studies have examined “everyday” engineering practice, teamwork and professionalskills are generally believed to be very important aspects of an engineer’s job. In some casesengineers spend nearly two thirds of their time interacting with people. However, studies havealso shown that students perceive these skills as less important than technical content and this isoften reinforced by the large proportion of technical content in the curriculum. Feedback in thecontext of authentic engineering tasks is one way to help students develop these types of skills.Feedback has been shown to be very effective in helping students close the gap between actualand desired performance. However, studies of the impact of feedback on the communication andprofessional skills of students in authentic engineering contexts are uncommon and needed. Thisstudy (a) characterizes feedback given to student teams from an expert coach and (b) investigatesthe effect of that feedback on student teams’ subsequent communication and professional skills.This paper focuses on a case study of feedback provided to four student teams in an open-endedprocess develop project where experiments are conducted using a virtual laboratory. The twelvestudents were drawn from two cohorts in their final year of undergraduate chemical, biologicalor environmental engineering at a large public university. Students were organized in teams andplaced in the role of semiconductor process engineers, tasked with optimizing a virtual chemicalvapor deposition reactor. This three week project involved two meetings with an expert coach,referred to as coaching sessions. Data sources include think aloud protocol (audio and transcriptsof student teams throughout the entire project), student work products, and student and expertinterviews.This work uses an analytical method developed by our group and described in more detailpreviously: episodes analysis of coaching sessions. In episodes analysis, feedback in thecoaching sessions is characterized by deconstructing transcripts of audio recordings into a seriesof episodes. Each episode contains up to four stages: surveying, probing, guiding andconfirmation. In this study, we focus on using episodes to identify the major themes ofdiscussion and to specifically identify the guidance that each team received. The episodesanalysis of transcripts directly following the coaching sessions were examined for explicitreference to coach feedback with regards to communication and professional skills. Pre-coachingsession think aloud transcripts were examined for indications of students’ communication andprofessional skills and provide a basis for comparison to communication and professional skillspost feedback. In addition, student work products that were submitted throughout the projectwere examined for evidence of communication and professional skill development. Specifically,sections of work products that directly relate to coach feedback were examined for improvementin later work products.When student teams were given directive feedback regarding their written work products, thisfeedback was taken up by the teams almost immediately. This result is not surprising as theteams were required to make changes before they could proceed with the project. However, ingeneral, this feedback was also apparently retained and it was reflected in documents submittedlater in the project.

Gilbuena, D., & Champagne, A. B., & Koretsky, M. (2013, June), The Influence of Feedback on Teamwork and Professional Skills in an Authentic Process Development Project Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22601

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