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Unified Voice and Group Agency: Developing Teams to Transform Engineering Education

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Asset Sourcing for Remaking Engineering Learning

Tagged Divisions

Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37974

Download Count

19

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Paper Authors

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Cara Margherio University of Washington

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Cara Margherio is the Assistant Director of the UW Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity (CERSE). Cara's work examines the social mechanisms which may transform the production of inequalities within STEM higher education. Her research is grounded in critical race and feminist theories, and her research interests include community cultural wealth, counterspaces, intersectionality, and institutional change.

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Anna Lee Swan University of Washington

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Anna Lee Swan is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Her work focuses on the intersections of gender, race, nation, and culture in relation to digital/social media.

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Julia M. Williams Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Julia M. Williams is Professor of English at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her research areas include technical communication, assessment, accreditation, and the development of change management strategies for faculty and staff. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Engineering Education, International Journal of Engineering Education, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, and Technical Communication Quarterly, among others.

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Eva Andrijcic Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Eva Andrijcic serves as an Associate Professor of Engineering Management at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Systems and Information Engineering from University of Virginia, where she worked at the Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems. She received a B.S. in mathematics from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. Her major interests are in the areas of risk analysis and management, critical infrastructure management and protection, interdisciplinary engineering education, and risk education.

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Sriram Mohan Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Sriram Mohan is a Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Rose-Hulman institute of Technology. Sriram received a B.E degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Madras and M.S and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Indiana University. During his time at Rose-Hulman, Sriram has served as a consultant in Hadoop and NoSQL systems and has helped a variety of clients in the Media, Insurance, and Telecommunication sectors. In addition to his industrial consulting activities, Sriram maintains an active research profile in data science and education research that has led to over 30 publications or presentations. At Rose-Hulman, Sriram has focused on incorporating reflection, and problem based learning activities in the Software Engineering curriculum. Sriram has been fundamental to the revamp of the entire software engineering program at Rose-Hulman. Sriram is a founding member of the Engineering Design program and continues to serve on the leadership team that has developed innovative ways to integrate Humanities, Science, Math, and Engineering curriculum into a studio based education model. In 2015, Sriram was selected as the Outstanding Young Alumni of the year by the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University. Sriram serves as a facilitator for MACH, a unique faculty development experience, aimed at helping faculty and administrator develop a change agent tool box

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Elizabeth Litzler University of Washington

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Elizabeth Litzler, Ph.D., is the director of the University of Washington Center for Evaluation and Research for STEM Equity (UW CERSE) and an affiliate assistant professor of sociology. She has been at UW working on STEM Equity issues for more than 17 years. Dr. Litzler is a member of ASEE, 2020-2021 chair of the ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and a former board member of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Her research interests include the educational climate for students, faculty, and staff in science and engineering, assets based approaches to STEM equity, and gender and race stratification in education and the workforce. She was awarded the 2020 WEPAN Founders Award.

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Abstract

This research paper investigates how individual change agents come together to form effective teams. Improving equity within academic engineering requires changes that are often too complex and too high-risk for a faculty member to pursue on their own [1], [2]. Teams offer the advantage of combining a diverse skill set of many individuals, as well as bringing together insider knowledge and external specialist expertise [1], [2]. However, in order for teams of academic change agents to function effectively, they must overcome the challenges of internal politics, power differentials, and group conflict [1]. This analysis of team formation emerges from our participatory action research with recipients of the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) grants. Through an NSF-funded collaboration between [University 1] and [University 2], we work with the RED teams to research the process of change as they work to improve equity and inclusion within their institutions. Utilizing longitudinal qualitative data from focus group discussions with 16 teams at the beginning and midpoints of their projects, we examine the development of teams to transform engineering education. Drawing on theoretical frameworks from social movement theory, we highlight the importance of creating a unified team voice and developing a sense of group agency.

Teams have a better chance of achieving their goals if members are able to create a unified voice—that is, a shared sense of purpose and vision for their team [3], [4], [5]. We find that the development of a team’s unified voice begins with proposal writing. When members of RED teams did not collaboratively write the grant proposal, they found it necessary to devote more time to develop a sense of shared vision for their project. For many RED teams, the development of a unified voice was further strengthened through external messaging, as they articulated a “we” in opposition to a “they” who have different values or interests [3], [4]. Group agency develops as a result of team members perceiving their goals as attainable and their efforts, as both individuals and a group, as worthwhile [4]. That is, group agency is dependent on both the credibility of the team as well as trust among team members [6]. For some of the RED teams, the NSF requirement to include social scientists and education researchers on their teams gave the engineering team members new, increased exposure to these fields. RED teams found that creating mutual respect was foundational for working across disciplinary differences and developing group agency.

References [1] R. Caldwell, “Models of change agency: A fourfold classification,” British Journal of Management, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 131-142, 2003. [2] J.R. Hackman and A.C. Edmondson, “Groups as agents of change,” Handbook of organization development, 2008, pp. 167-186. [3] K.M. Blee, Democracy in the making: How activist groups form, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. [4] K. Dugan and J. Reger, “Voice and agency in social movement outcomes,” Qualitative Sociology, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 467-484, 2006. [5] J.R. Katzenbach and D.K. Smith, “The discipline of teams,” Harvard Business Review, vol. 83, no. 7, p. 162, 1993. [6] J.P. Kotter, J. P., Leading Change, Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press, 1996.

Margherio, C., & Swan, A. L., & Williams, J. M., & Andrijcic, E., & Mohan, S., & Litzler, E. (2021, July), Unified Voice and Group Agency: Developing Teams to Transform Engineering Education Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37974

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