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Training Engineering Upperclassmen To Facilitate Freshman Design Teams

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.589.1 - 3.589.9

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Paper Authors

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W. Poppen

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J. E. Seat

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G. Klukken

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D. Knight

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J. Roger Parsons

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

Session 2553

Training Engineering Upperclassmen to Facilitate Freshman Design Teams D. Knight, W. Poppen, G. Klukken, J. Parsons, J. E. Seat The University of Tennessee College of Education/College of Engineering

Introduction As part of a comprehensive effort to redesign the freshman basic engineering curriculum, members of the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee are utilizing design teams in first year engineering courses. Industry representatives and faculty who teach engineering design have suggested that freshmen in engineering could benefit from early exposure to a team 1 2 based design component. 60 freshman students were divided into twelve design teams to work on five design problems over the course of the semester. However, there was some concern about the teamwork skill level of the average entering freshman. It was decided that one way to help build the teamwork skills necessary to complete the problems would be to place a group facilitator with each design team.

Because of financial realities and to offer engineering students additional educational opportunities, it was decided to use engineering upperclassmen as facilitators. Therefore, members of the College of Education and the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee designed a facilitator training program for engineering students. The training program was taught through the College of Education as a pilot course for engineering honors upperclassmen during the Fall semester of 1997. The program ran with eighteen facilitators.

Program Design The design of the training program followed principles set forth by Goldstein 3 and incorporated two main phases: developing learning objectives and structuring the training environment.

Learning Objectives. Specifying a skills set necessary for group facilitation has been much discussed in the literature.4 5 6 Several useful books have been published on the subject.7 8 9 10 When evaluating these various skills sets four themes consistently emerged. These recurring themes became the learning objectives of the training program and can be specified as follows: (1) understanding the team, (2) facilitating structure, (3) problem solving, and (4) building cohesion.

The first skill base, understanding the team, focused on observing and diagnosing team dynamics and choosing interventions. Trainees learned team observation and diagnosis skills by observing other trainees working in group simulations and by working with various assessment 11 tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Also, facilitators were taught the relationships between various diagnoses and appropriate interventions. Finally, facilitators were taught the appropriate skills for deciding if a situation warrants intervention.

Poppen, W., & Seat, J. E., & Klukken, G., & Knight, D., & Parsons, J. R. (1998, June), Training Engineering Upperclassmen To Facilitate Freshman Design Teams Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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