July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Equity and Culture & Social Justice in Education
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 , . Teams offer the advantage of combining a diverse skill set of many individuals, as well as bringing together insider knowledge and external specialist expertise , . 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 . 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 , , . 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 , . 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 . That is, group agency is dependent on both the credibility of the team as well as trust among team members . 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.
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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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