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Understanding Teaching Assistants' Assessment of Individual Teamwork Performance

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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

Student Learning, Problem Solving, & Critical Thinking 3

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1293.1 - 24.1293.12



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Paper Authors


Patricia Kristine Sheridan University of Toronto

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Patricia Kristine Sheridan is a PhD Candidate with the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering
at the University of Toronto. She holds a BASc and MASc in Mechanical Engineering from the University
of Toronto. She is a member of the teaching team and a course developer for the Praxis cornerstone design

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Doug Reeve P.Eng. University of Toronto

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Professor Reeve is the founding Director of the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead) at the University of Toronto. Providing opportunities for leadership learning has been central to his work with engineering students for over twenty-five years. In 2002 he established Leaders of Tomorrow, a student leadership development program that led to the establishment of ILead.

Dr. Reeve is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and served as Chair from 2001-2011. He has worked with industry for many years as a consultant and president of a small consulting firm, frequently in international assignments. He has created and led professional development short courses for industry on over 50 occasions reaching over 5000 attendees. His contributions to the profession and to research have been recognized by numerous awards.

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Greg Evans University of Toronto Orcid 16x16

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GREG EVANS is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and the Director of the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research at the University of Toronto. He is the Associate Director of the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead). He has been awarded the 2010 Engineers Canada Medal for Distinction in Engineering Education and the 2010 American Society for Engineering Education St. Lawrence Section Outstanding Teaching Award. He is a licensed engineer (P.Eng.) and holds a BASc, MASc and PhD (Toronto).

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Understanding Teaching Assistant’s assessment of individual teamwork performanceTeam-based projects have become a common teaching practice in engineering courses as ameans to simulate real-world environments. In particular within design courses, team-basedprojects allow students to engage in problems that are technically more complex and larger thanone student would be able to tackle, but that can be solved by a group of students workingeffectively together. In these courses, students are often instructed on the technical aspects of theproject material in detail by the course instructor, however they may receive only minimalinstruction on how to function effectively as a team. The burden of diagnosing and assistingstruggling teams, and team-members, often falls to the teaching assistants who work closely withthe students in their teams. These teaching assistants are hired to assess student competence in,and support the development of, the technical or design process components of the project. Theyare not necessarily capable of, or comfortable with, assessing students’ abilities to workeffectively in a team environment.This paper outlines a study of teaching assistants in two first-year cornerstone design courses in alarge engineering faculty in an attempt to understand their ability to assess and support thedevelopment of individual team-effectiveness skills in their students. To determine howindividual student teamwork skills were assessed, teaching assistants were asked to assess eachstudent’s individual teamwork skills using a given model of individual team-effectivenesscompetencies, and were subsequently debriefed on their assessment practice. Teaching assistantscompleted surveys and participated in focus groups to develop a conceptual framework of theirperceptions of effective teamwork in a design context as well as how they would support thedevelopment of students in particular team situations. The reliability and confidence of teachingassistant assessment as well as the way in which teaching assistants used these assessments tosupport students to become more effective team-members will be discussed. Practicalimplications for course design and teaching assistant training will be presented to facilitateenvironments in which effective teamwork can be consciously developed.

Sheridan, P. K., & Reeve, D., & Evans, G. (2014, June), Understanding Teaching Assistants' Assessment of Individual Teamwork Performance Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23226

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