June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.1242.1 - 15.1242.13
The MERIT Kit: Methods for Evaluating Roles and Interactions in Teams
This paper describes the development of a complementary instructional kit designed to support collaborative learning and team problem solving skills. The MERIT kit is developed based on two learning theories (Bandura’s social cognitive theory and Vygotsky’s social constructivist theory) and a series of prior studies the author conducted with engineering teams in college classroom settings. These prior studies, which employed video and discourse analysis methods, provided evidence for identifying areas where students needed scaffolding.
Due to the constraints in observing all teams when teaching and providing feedback on their processes, a metacognitive structure was used to engage students in self reflection and group processing. The MERIT kit has three key components that are designed to address common challenges we face in teaching and assessing collaborative learning and teaming skills. These three components are: (a) “Vicarious Learning Experiences” using case study videos (e.g., PBS Design Squad clips) along with group processing with MERIT cards, (b) the “I Know My Team Members” document, and (c) a “Performance Assessment Task” used for pre and post evaluation. Next steps, in the validation of the MERIT kit, is wide dissemination and evaluation of the kit in supporting individual student learning.
Factors that Motivated the Development of the MERIT Kit
Today, more than 50% of science and engineering faculty require their undergraduate students to participate in collaborative group projects (National Science Board, 2008). Current trends suggest that this percentage will increase (Project Kaleidoscope, 2006). The results of research on the impact of cooperative and collaborative learning methods on student learning at the undergraduate level are also promising. Hake’s (1998) study involving six-thousand students provides robust evidence that interactive teaching methods involving group work are more effective than traditional teaching methods. In addition, ABET requires that all accredited engineering programs demonstrate student attainment of outcomes related to design, problem solving, and teaming. For instance, the engineering accreditation Criterion 3 (ABET, 2005) specifically addresses teaming: “an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams (criterion 3d).” Recent National Academy of Engineering reports (NAE, 2004; NAE, 2005) also recognize the growing need for teaming skills to solve increasingly complex problems in a global context.
Small-group learning strategies are effective in creating positive attitudes towards learning and increased persistence in STEM courses (Springer, Stanne, and Donovan, 1999). However, despite the historical literature-base on cooperative learning (Johnson Johnson, & Holubec, 1998), educators still strive for answers to questions such as: How can I scaffold group learning? How can I teach teaming skills to my students? What criteria should I use to build effective teams? Despite the importance of gaining effective teaming skills for our students and the increased popularity of using collaborative learning methods in college classrooms, there are limited modules and instructional tools designed to teach teaming skills to engineering students.
Purzer, S. (2010, June), The Merit Kit: Methods For Evaluating Roles And Interactions In Teams Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16529
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