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The Quality Of Solutions To Open Ended Problem Solving Activities And Its Relation To First Year Student Team Effectiveness

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Student Teams and Design Skills

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1322.1 - 11.1322.13



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Paper Authors


Tamara Moore Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Tamara Moore is a doctoral student in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received both her B.S. in Mathematics/Mathematics Education and M.S. in Mathematics Education from Purdue University in 1996 and 2001, respectively. Before pursuing her doctorate, Tamara taught high school mathematics for seven years. Her research interests include curriculum development, the learning of complex problem-solving, teamwork, integration of engineering into the K-12 classroom, and operations research.

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Heidi Diefes-Dux Purdue University

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Heidi Diefes-Dux is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education (ENE) at Purdue University with a joint appointment in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE). She is the chair of the ENE Graduate Committee and she is a member of the Teaching Academy at Purdue. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from ABE in 1997. Her research interests include open-ended problem solving, evaluation of education technology, and first-year and graduate curriculum development.

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P.K. Imbrie Purdue University

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P.K. Imbrie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University. His research interests in educational research include modeling student success, modeling student team functioning, and multi-disciplinary engineering education. His technical research interests include solid mechanics, experimental mechanics, nonlinear materials characterization, microstructural evaluation of materials, and experiment and instrument design.

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

The Quality of Solutions to Open-Ended Problem Solving Activities and its Relation to First-Year Student Team Effectiveness


ABET requires that engineering graduates be able to work on multi-disciplinary teams and apply mathematics and science when solving engineering problems. One manner of integrating teamwork and engineering contexts in a first-year foundation engineering course is through the use of Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) – realistic, client-driven problems based on the theoretical framework of models and modeling. This study looks at the quality of eleven student team solutions to a Model-Eliciting Activity and their team effectiveness, specifically interdependency (cooperation among team members to accomplish a task), goal-setting (team sets outcome goals and sub-goals to accomplish tasks), and potency (shared belief among team members that they can accomplish their goals).


The National Research Council Board on Engineering Education, NSF Engineering Education Coalition Program, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology1 Engineering Criteria 2000 have been instrumental in driving the reform of engineering education. ABET places particular emphasis on graduates having the ability to work on multi-disciplinary teams and apply mathematics and science when solving engineering problems1. Even with the added importance of the use of student teams in engineering, there have only been a few research studies that attempt to measure team effectiveness2. The work presented here defines team effectiveness based upon “industry” type teams. According to Guzzo3: A team is a group that consists of individuals who see themselves and are seen by others as a social entity, which is interdependent because of the tasks performed as members of a group. They are part of the educational process, performing tasks that affect both individual and group learning. One of the main differences between a “team” and a “group” is that individual team members are interdependent, meaning that the team must have cooperation among team members to accomplish a task3. Along with interdependency, the other attributes of teams are potency, the shared belief by a team that they can be effective4 and goal setting, the ability of a team to set goals and sub-goals to accomplish a task5. By working cooperatively using teaming theory as a guide for skill development, students can be motivated toward the goal of performance on problem-solving tasks6. This study measures the quality of student team solutions to complex problem solving tasks as it relates to their team effectiveness with regards to interdependency, potency, and goal setting.



The setting for this study is a required first-year introductory engineering course at Purdue University that focuses on engineering computer tools such as MATLAB and Excel, fundamental engineering concepts, and problem solving. Successful completion of the first-year

Moore, T., & Diefes-Dux, H., & Imbrie, P. (2006, June), The Quality Of Solutions To Open Ended Problem Solving Activities And Its Relation To First Year Student Team Effectiveness Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--841

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