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Understanding How Students’ Value the Behaviors of Individuals in Engineering Teams

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Experiential Learning

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1290.1 - 24.1290.13



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Paper Authors


Robert L. Nagel James Madison University

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Dr. Robert Nagel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. Dr. Nagel joined the James Madison University after completing his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. He has a B.S. from Trine University and a M.S. from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, both in mechanical engineering. The research interests of Dr. Nagel focus on engineering design and engineering design education, and in particular, the design conceptualization phase of the design process. He has performed research with the United States Army Chemical Corps, General Motors Research and Development Center, and the United States Air Force Academy, and he has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Nagel’s current research activities are focused on product design and engineering education. In partnership with industry, he leads research translating customer perception of product failure back into the design process. His education research focuses on developing individual-focused methods, approaches, and interventions to teach sustainability as well as engaging diverse populations of students in STEM through systems thinking, engineering design, and engineering science.

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Eric C. Pappas James Madison University

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Eric Pappas is an associate professor in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University.

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Gretchen Anne Hazard James Madison University


Matthew Swain James Madison University

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Matthew Swain is a second-year PhD student in the Assessment and Measurement program at James Madison University. He serves as a Doctoral Assistant in the Center for Assessment and Research Studies where he assists in coordinating two university-wide assessment days to collect General Education and Student Affairs assessment data. His research interests include student motivation in educational testing, factor analysis, and modern missing data handling methods.

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Understanding how Students’ Value Behaviors in Multidisciplinary Engineering TeamsOur engineering program incorporates a strong focus on engineering design, which begins duringthe students’ sophomore year with two sequential design courses—Design I taken in the fallsemester and Design II taken during the spring semester. During this year-long sophomoredesign course sequence students work to design and construct prototypes of human-poweredvehicles for a client with cerebral palsy who lives in the local community. A client with cerebralpalsy provides not only a real, client-based design experience, but also an opportunity requiringthat the students develop a new customer persona differing from the “myself-as-the-customer”model; this process has proved challenging for many of the students. Ideally, by the end of theacademic year, students should learn the importance of disassociating themselves with thecustomer as well as understand the ethical obligations associated with being an engineer.A critical component of this sophomore project is the development of identity and communityamong a cohort of students. The sophomore design course sequence project is meant to exposethe students to an experience that transcends the classroom, and in the process, teach the studentsthat they are part of a larger complex system. Through this very-real project students, asrepresentatives of the University and the Department, see first hand how their decisions andactions as an engineer can (and likely will) influence individuals as members of society (i.e., theyare a member of a system of systems). For many students, this project is their first realization ofsocial systems and their future role as a member of a social system as a practicing engineer.This paper will provide the preliminary results of an NSF-sponsored research project to teachengineering students sustainability in five contexts – individual, social, environmental, economic,and technical. This paper focuses on the individual and social elements related to working as amember of a multidisciplinary team, and presents the results of a study on student values andbehaviors when working as a member of a multidisciplinary team. Students participating in thisstudy were asked (1) to rate their own values with respect to their membership on theirengineering team and then (2) to rate their behaviors using a survey instrument developed as apart of this research project. The survey instrument as well as the preliminary results from thefirst deployment of the survey will be presented in this paper. During this first deployment,students completed both the values survey and behaviors survey twice (once at the conclusion ofthe fall semester and again at the conclusion of the spring semester) to provide longitudinal data.Behaviors were meant to align with the values, but the students were not provided with thisalignment; rather, the students’ perceived value to behavior correlations were identified througha regression analysis. These correlations will be provided for both fall and spring semester data.The overarching goal of this portion of the study is to gain insight on student perception ofappropriate behaviors when working in a team such that course activities can be designed totarget behavioral weaknesses that can encourage students to become a functioning member of amultidisciplinary team.

Nagel, R. L., & Pappas, E. C., & Hazard, G. A., & Swain, M. (2014, June), Understanding How Students’ Value the Behaviors of Individuals in Engineering Teams Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23223

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