RATs: Students working in teams, do they really benefit?

Scott Yost, Derek Lane, George Blandford

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper presents various findings from an investigation of several issues surrounding students working in teams. The main data for this study comes from students who are part of the senior capstone design course. Educators and practitioners know that working in teams is a reality in the engineering profession. ABET expects academic units to demonstrate that interdisciplinary teams are mainstream in engineering programs. In support, educators give a varying degree of commitment in support of a team approach for solving engineering problems. However, much like problem solving skills, there is a temptation to assume that students already know how to implement the teaming skills without any formal learning. Unlike problem solving skills, teaming skills require varying levels of personal interaction in achieving success. Hence, does placing students in a group automatically lead to a level of success that individuals working alone can not reach? Do students really know how to maximize the benefits of teaming? If the conditions lead to successful teams, how can it be determined that synergy occurs and the whole is truly greater then the sum of individual parts? Surveying students in the capstone design course on their abilities to function in teams is one mechanism for assessing success in developing teaming skills. Several semesters of observations are presented and comparisons are made among students with formal team education as their team skills advance over the course of a semester. Results will be presented from student surveys, faculty assessment, and readiness assessment tests (RATs). Anecdotal and empirical evidence supports the need for doing more with students than simply placing them around the same table and expecting them to be a successful team. The results and conclusions are based on evaluations from student presentations and student perceptions as well as individual and team test scores as the teams progress throughout the semester. Students received formal team skill and interdisciplinary skill training. Students were also given sufficient time to implement these skills within their team to create more cohesive and productive teams. Furthermore, learning outcomes were quantified using readiness assessment tests. While not specifically designed to investigate the differences in individual learning and group learning, these assessments show that team learning is quantifiable greater than individual learning.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2006
Event113th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2006 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Jun 18 2006Jun 21 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering

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