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Work in Progress: Micro-skills and Mini-habits in Engineering Student Teams: Facilitating a Confluence of Perspectives and Talent

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Teaming & Collaborative Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

6

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29172

Download Count

40

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Paper Authors

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Malini Natarajarathinam Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1684-6476

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Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam is an Associate professor with Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution. She teaches classes on strategic relationships for industrial distribution and distribution logistics. She is interested in researching on the impact of high impact practices on the learning and engagement of students in Industrial Distribution and other STEM disciplines. She is also interested in creating awareness about Industrial Distribution and related STEM fields among the public.

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Soo Jeoung Han Texas A&M University

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Soo Jeoung (Crystal) Han is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Administration & Human Resource at Texas A&M University. She worked in business and academic institutions in South Korea for more than five years. Her research interests reflect her diverse work experiences including the field of virtual team collaboration, cross-cultural team diversity, shared leadership development of teams, and global/women leadership. Currently, she has published journals and book chapters in the field of collaborative learning, team leadership, and e-learning.

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Michael Beyerlein Texas A&M University

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Michael Beyerlein is a Professor in the Human Resource Development Graduate Program at Texas A&M University. Formerly, he was professor and department head of Organizational Leadership & Supervision at Purdue and prior to that Founding Director of the Center for Collaborative Organizations and Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the University of North Texas. His books, book chapters, and articles usually address the topics of teams and collaboration, creativity and innovation, knowledge management, and intangible capital. His research interests include: team creativity, emergence of virtual organizations, and innovation science. His most recent edited book is The handbook for high performance virtual teams with Jill Nemiro and others.

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Jill Zarestky Colorado State Univeristy

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Jill Zarestky, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Adult Education and Training in the School of Education at Colorado State University.

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Lei Xie Texas A&M University

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Lei Xie is a doctoral student at Texas A&M University. He is currently majoring in Human Resource Development in the Department of Educational Administration & Human Resource Development. His research interests include conflict management, organizational learning/change, knowledge management, learning organization, and International HRD. As a second year international graduate student from the People’s Republic of China, he has been actively engaged in academic research. He is working on several book chapters and an independent research project on the subject of organization development/change and organizational learning. He earned a Master’s degree in HRD from Texas A&M University in 2013. He graduated from Henan University of Technology in China with a Bachelor’s degree.

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Khalil M. Dirani Texas A&M University

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Dr. Dirani is an Associate Professor and program chair for the Education & HRD program in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University. Khalil’s research focus is on International HRD, transfer of learning practices and theories across cultures, and learning organizations in Lebanon and the Middle East region. He developed the Arabic version of the Dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire (Watkins & Marsick 1993), which was implemented by Arab scholars in Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Dr. Dirani’s articles have appeared in both research and professional publications such as Human Resource Development Quarterly, Human Resource Development International, International Human Resource Management, Advances in International Management, and European Journal for Training & Development.

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Rodney Boehm Texas A&M University

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Rodney Boehm is the Director of Aggies Invent and an Associate Professor of Practice in the Dwight Look College of Engineering. He has broad industry experiences, including over 30 years in all aspects of the telecommunications industry (sales, marketing, manufacturing, business development, and technical design), the creation of a telecommunications standard (SONET - Synchronous Optical Network) for the fiber optics industry that is still in use internationally over 30 years later, a wide variety of business experiences in international companies, and start up experiences that have helped him lead a very successful industry career. He holds a BS and ME in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Currently he is using his technical business experiences to develop and run innovation and entrepreneurial programs for the Engineering Innovation Center, a 20,000 sq ft rapid prototyping facility. These include Aggies Invent, Engineering Project Showcase, Inventeer, and Pop Up Classes. In addition, he mentors multiple entrepreneurial teams.

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Abstract

The focus of this work in progress is to identify the micro-level patterns of behavior that enable realization of the value implicit in member diversity that can be leveraged to achieve higher levels of project team performance through improved teamwork. Diversity is commonly defined as a characteristic of groups of two or more people and usually indicates demographic differences among group members. However, two layers of diversity attributes were identified by researchers: (a) the surface level (e.g., age, gender, race, and physical disabilities, Mannix & Neale, 2005); and (b) the deep level (e.g., cognitive ability, personality traits, values, beliefs, and attitudes, Harrison, Price, Gavin, & Florey, 2002). Many studies on team diversity have focused on surface-level attributes because deep-level diversity tends to be difficult to explore. Recent research shows that deep-level diversity has the greatest impact on team dynamics and performance and not with overt surface-level qualities (e.g., Vodosek, 2007; Woehr, Arciniega, & Poling, 2013).

Even though there are some challenges for heterogeneous teams, future researchers and practitioners need to emphasize how to make deep-level diversity an asset. Recognizing underlying causes of team members' conflicts due to diversity and using appropriate interventions that empower team members to deal with future challenges can be helpful for managing teamwork (Brett et al., 2006). The negative effect of individual differences may be alleviated by an effort to actively understand the differences and share a common goal and vision. A better understanding of the micro-level habits that generate positive processes in the teams that are generating value from deep-level diversity will provide a step forward in developing better team learning structures. Our study will focus on university students in a STEM field who are participating in a 48-hour intensive design experience over three days. This will allow us to monitor teams in a controlled environment for the entire duration from formation of team to completion of the tasks. We plan to collect data about the teams and their interactions to assess the team dynamics in effective and ineffective teams, using a variety of methods, including video analysis, focus groups, questionnaires, and sociometric badges. Developing a better understanding of team learning especially in STEM fields is important as they are the primary source of future workforce, and their competencies working in diverse teams in the real world will be significantly influenced by their experiences prior to entering the workplace.

Natarajarathinam, M., & Han, S. J., & Beyerlein, M., & Zarestky, J., & Xie, L., & Dirani, K. M., & Boehm, R. (2017, June), Work in Progress: Micro-skills and Mini-habits in Engineering Student Teams: Facilitating a Confluence of Perspectives and Talent Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/29172

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