San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.1370.1 - 25.1370.12
Training Apples to Perform Like Oranges: A Look at University Teaming EducationTo effectively function in the workplace today, people must be proficient in their technical skillsand must also be able to function as an effective team member. In the workplace they must workwell with people of different disciplines and motivations. Universities have recognized this needand have adapted their curriculum to place additional emphasis on teaching the skills necessaryto be an effective team member. Yet universities, constrained by their organizational structureand missions, cannot completely mimic the realities of the workplace business environment.Classes have a finite length and students quickly learn that any problem can be endured throughthe academic quarter instead of truly working out a sustainable solution. Teams composed ofmembers with similar expertise are often willing to cover for the weaker team member due to theshort team life which is usually measured in weeks. In teams with mixed expertise, grades areoften given based on a combination of individual/team effort versus solely on the team product.Faculty continually grapples with questions such as “can a team member be fired” and “if not,what are the realistic consequences?” School is a learning environment where student learning isfostered and students are given second chances. Academic culture, by its very nature, is opposedto unfairness, dire consequences, swift punishment and the harsh reality encountered in the worldand specifically, the workplace. Considering these types of issues leads one to wonder how wellthe university education prepares a student to be successful in a real world team environment.This paper investigated this question through a comparison of university teams to businessteams. Criteria for comparison includes team member motivations, level of commitment,technical competence, discipline, team moral and culture, and personality conflicts. Studentsparticipating on both interdisciplinary teams as well as single-expertise teams were surveyed todetermine their mastery of basic team skills. Recent graduates were surveyed to determine theeffectiveness of their teaming education in the business world. Advisory Board members fromtwo different programs and colleges, Architectural Engineering and the BioResource andAgricultural Engineering, were surveyed to define the teaming expectations in the businessworld. Additionally, faculty with industry experience were surveyed and questioned on thedifferences between the two environments.Problems with university culture that do little to expose students to the harsh realities of careerexpectations were identified and analyzed. Based on the results of these surveys and analysis ofteams performances, recommendations are presented to better shape the university process ofenhancing development of effective teaming skills.
Nelson, J., & Holtz, A. J. (2012, June), Training Apples to Perform Like Oranges: A Look at University Teaming Education Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/22127
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