The effects of physical environment on engineering team performance: A case study

Eric A. Grulke, Dan C. Beert, Derek R. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The effects of physical environment on the performance of student teams were evaluated in a timed case study. Six teams worked on an intensive three-hour problem-solving event as part of their term project. Successful completion of the project depended on using engineering skills to solve an open-ended technical problem and produce a one-page memo defining the solution. The skills needed for this exercise included searching electronic databases for relevant information, analyzing journal publications, developing a kinetic model, applying the model to the problem, making team decisions, and communicating the results in a written product. Three teams performed the exercise in a technology-training classroom (treatment group), newly constructed and flexibly furnished to accommodate interaction and electronic communication. The remaining three teams (control group) were to find any available space within the Engineering complex. The technology classroom featured flexible, team-friendlyfurnishing, and laptop computers with wireless Ethernet connections, giving the students access to Internet database resources and nearby printers. None of the teams selecting their own space chose to work in a traditional classroom. Rather, they all migrated to space that could be used for group discussion, and left these areas to get access to other resources. All groups performed well as teams, probably due to the team training that had been provided to the class prior to the exercise. The three treatment teams in the technology classroom scored significantly better on technical content and communicating their work product in memo form than the control group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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