Crystal City, Virginia
April 29, 2018
April 29, 2018
May 2, 2018
Diversity and Undergraduate Education
Working in teams is essential to being a successful engineer (ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission, 2016). Several researchers have documented dysfunctional team behaviors that are particularly problematic for women in engineering working in teams, such as women being relegated to helping roles (Seron, Silbey, Cech, & Rubineau, 2016), women not speaking up when they are in the minority in groups (Dasgupta, Scircle & Hunsinger, 2015), and men on teams more likely to present technical content and answer audience questions (Meadows & Sekaquaptewa, 2013).
Rather than addressing these issues of inequity by providing additional support and training for women and other underrepresented populations, a different, holistic approach, was taken in this research. As part of an NSF supported initiative, multiple activities intended to develop an appreciation for diversity in engineering and promote inclusive behaviors in teams were integrated into four first-year engineering courses at a large mid-Atlantic university. An additional four sections received the course as typically taught. Intervention and comparison classes were balanced across instructors. All eight classes are participating in regular surveys throughout the semester to assess the impact of the interventions.
This manuscript assesses the impact of one of those pilot activities, an interactive theatre sketch. In the interactive theatre sketch, students in the intervention sections watch a scene of a three-person engineering team that demonstrates some dysfunctionality, such as being unable to move past a small mistake the woman made during the previous assignment and accusing her of becoming “too emotional” when she defended her work in the current lab. After the scene, students from the audience volunteer to be the fourth person on the team to try to intervene to help the team to function better. Trained facilitators walk students through what worked well in the intervention and how to improve the team’s functionality, with a particular eye toward issues of gender and inequity. Qualitative data was collected last fall through a survey to assess what students learned about working in teams. Students in both the intervention and comparison sections were questioned about what they learned about working in teams and what activities helped them learn about working in teams. An exploratory scheme was added to the existing explanatory framework to analyze the data. In this two-tiered process, a group of a priori codes, used as indicators of well-defined inclusion-exclusion criteria for a thematic analysis of the response data, have been determined by outcomes of studies found in an exhaustive literature review of similar initiatives, primarily existing outside of engineering. Independent of the pre-set codes, response sets were independently coded by two different raters to determine emergent themes. Themes will be discussed along with any differences observed between students in the comparison and intervention classes. Practical tips and observations about how to implement theatre sketches to maximize their impact on students’ ability to work in teams will also be addressed.
Rambo-Hernandez, K. E., & Roy, A., & Morris, M. L., & Hensel, R. A. M., & Schwartz, J. C., & Atadero, R. A., & Paguyo, C. (2018, April), Using Interactive Theater to Promote Inclusive Behaviors in Teams for First-year Engineering Students: A Sustainable Approach Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/29592
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