New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Teams have become the default work structure in organizations; thus, in work settings that emphasize teamwork, employees must have knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) to communicate and coordinate with their colleagues. Yet, teamwork skills are rarely “taught” in engineering curricula; in fact, compared to business representatives, university educators have been found to underestimate the value of teamwork KSAs. Instead, students are expected to develop teamwork and leadership skills via a sink-or-swim approach where they are assigned group work and left to perform as they can. Often, these poor teamwork experiences combined with the lack of training and opportunities for guided reflection lead to students disliking working in groups, impacting not just the cognitive but also the affective domain of learning. In response to this identified weakness, a committee of representatives from the Faculty of Engineering and other support units at the University of Waterloo is developing a series of six workshops intended to be delivered to engineering students in all disciplines in their first three years of study. The first three workshops will provide an introduction to team-forming and building, team communication, and conflict management. The last three workshops will provide reinforcement and opportunities for application in the same areas and in multidisciplinary settings. This paper describes the first two workshops in this series. Their design is based on the principle that teamwork skills are best learned by doing, i.e., by practicing in a context that approximates common team experiences in engineering. In the first workshop, students work in groups to construct a tower out of straws and connectors under different performance objectives and where conflict situations are intentionally created. In the second workshop, students are assigned different team roles and challenged to build a simple LEGO structure under different conditions of verbal and written communication channel effectiveness. The combined learning outcomes of the first two workshops are understanding the characteristics of effective teams, developing strategies for effective teamwork, building active listening skills, and asking effective questions. As the workshops are developed and implemented, ongoing assessment of their effectiveness in improving students’ teamwork-related KSAs is focused on the workshops’ impact on (1) students’ knowledge of generic teamwork competencies (or “declarative” knowledge), and, (2) transfer of that knowledge to a new performance environment. This paper reports on the results of student self-appraisal surveys/quizzes and provides an overall evaluation of the current and potential future impact of the workshop series. The stand-alone nature of this series of workshops makes it highly adaptable not only for other engineering schools, but also for non-engineering programs that may identify the need for teamwork instruction and assessment in their curricula.
Hurst, A., & Jobidon, E., & Prier, A., & Khaniyev, T., & Rennick, C., & Al-Hammoud, R., & Hulls, C., & Grove, J. A., & Mohamed, S., & Johnson, S. J., & Bedi, S. (2016, June), Towards a Multidisciplinary Teamwork Training Series for Undergraduate Engineering Students: Development and Assessment of Two First-year Workshops Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27065
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