Active/Collaborative Learning Student Teams Integrating Technology Effectively Women and Minorities Assessment and Evaluation EC2000 Emerging Technology Foundation Coalition Curricula Concept Inventories
Student Teams in Engineering

Introduction to Student Teams in Engineering

Download Brochure: PDF | MS Word

The first resource is a one-page introduction that briefly addresses several questions that faculty members have raised about using student teams.


Mini-documents are 4-10 page documents that provide a compact exploration of frequent issues that faculty members who are using teams or considering using teams must address. Mini-documents are available on the following issues:

  • Forming Student Teams [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]
  • Geeting Student Engineering Teams Off to a Good Start [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]
  • Effective Decision Making in Teams [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]
  • Understanding Conflict and Conflict Management [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]
  • Effective Interpersonal/Intrateam Communication [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]
  • Assigning Individual Scores for Team Assignments: Peer Assessment and Peer Evaluation [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]
  • Constructing and Administering Team Tests
  • Understanding Small-group Dynamics
  • Working with Dysfunctional Teams [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]
  • Developing Learning Activities for Teams
  • Monitoring the Progress and Effectiveness of Student Teams [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]
  • Team Process Check [HTML | PDF | MS WORD]


The Foundation Coalition offers a workshop for campuses considered increased use of student teams in their courses. Workshop participants will develop their abilities to use student teams in a variety of different settings in the engineering curricula. The objectives of the workshop are to improve knowledge and skills in the following areas: 1) organizing students into teams, 2) setting expectations for team behavior, 3) guiding students to resolve team conflicts, 4) facilitating cooperative learning using teams, and 5) grading assignments submitted by student teams.

The length of the workshops varies between 2 hours and 2 days depending upon the desired degree of interactivity and participant interaction. Greater interactivity and participation requires a longer workshop. If you interested in hosting several workshops, workshop sponsors can customize content by combining one or more of the workshops offered by the Foundation Coalition (FC). For more information about FC workshops see the workshop introduction. For more information about FC workshops see the workshop introduction.


Improving the ability of faculty to work with student teams in their courses is one of the underlying ideas of the Foundation Coalition (FC). Many faculty members across the FC have been using student teams as an integral part of their courses since the inception of the Coalition in 1993. These faculty members have coupled their experience and expertise with research on teams to create a number of resources that hopefully will help faculty members increase the effectiveness of student teams in their courses.


Resources that have been or are being produced by the Foundation Coalition include:

  • A one-page introduction to student teams in engineering
  • A series of mini-documents (4-10 pages long) that address issues that faculty members address when using student teams
  • Workshop on using student teams in engineering courses


Web Resources

Team Information - Arizona State University: The site contains an NSF report on teams in the engineering classroom, team training workbook, and a facilitator's guide for using the team training workbook.

Puzzled about Teams Pennsylvania State University: The report provides a good introduction using student teams. Readers can find information on a rationale for using teams, how to form teams, how to train teams, and how to assess teams.

BESTEAMS (Building Engineering Student Team Effectiveness and Management Systems) researches engineering student project team performance. The BESTEAMS Partnership builds engineering team-centered programs that support effective project team experiences throughout a student's engineering the curriculum. Effective team performance is promoted through longitudinal, and developmental, team-training modules. The modules are designed for use in one class period each and can be administered by a trained faculty member or a BESTEAMS Trainer.

Building Blocks for Teams Teaching and Learning with Technology, Pennsylvania State University: Faculty members and students both can find useful information on using teams: managing teams, being a team member, team roles, effective meetings, group communication, team organization, individual responsibilities, and how to address conflicts.

Perceptions of Engineers Regarding Successful Engineering Team Design: The perceptions of engineers and scientists at NASA Langley Research Center toward engineering design teams were evaluated. A sample of 49 engineers and scientists rated 60 team behaviors in terms of their relative importance for team success. They also completed a profile of their own perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses as team members. Behaviors related to team success are discussed in terms of those involving the organizational culture and commitment to the team and those dealing with internal team dynamics. The latter behaviors focused on team issues occurring during the early stages of a team's existence. They included the level and extent of debate and discussion regarding methods for completing the team task and the efficient use of team time to explore and discuss methodologies critical to the problem. The discussion includes a comparison of engineering teams with the prototypical business team portrayed in the literature. [PDF]

Strategic Formation of Groups: Issues in Task-Performance and Team Member Selection While many researchers have studied effectiveness in task-performing groups, very little research has examined how such groups form or how the formation process can affect subsequent performance. We explore these issues by considering how task and relational functions in the group may interact in ways that facilitate or hinder task performance in an organizational context. We conclude that, in addition to task-performance skills, it is imperative to consider personal relationships among members when explaining the potential or realized effectiveness of a group.

References for Further Information

  1. Katzenbach, J.R. and Smith, D.K. (1992) Wisdom of Teams, Harvard Business School Press
  2. Seat, E. and Lord, S. (1999)"Enabling Effective Engineering Teams: A Program for Teaching Interaction Skills," Journal on Engineering Education, 88(4), 385-390
  3. Engineering Education for a Changing World, Report prepared by the ASEE Engineering Deans' Council and Corporate Roundtable, Washington, D.C., ASEE, 1994
  4. ASTD, "Workplace Basics: The Skills Employers Want," American Society for Training and Development and U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, 1988
  5. Evans, D.L., Beakley, G.C., Crouch, P.E., and Yamaguchi, G.T. (1993) "Attributes of Engineering Graduates and Their Impact on Curriculum Design," Journal on Engineering Education, 82(4)
  6. Okudan, G.E., Horner, D. and Russell, M. (2001) Achieving High Performing Engineering Design Teams: A Curriculum Intervention Study, Proceedings, International Conference on Engineering Education
    Abstract - A study was conducted to measure the effect of high performing team skills training on the performance of design teams during an industry sponsored engineering design project. The design project was a part of a first year engineering course at The Pennsylvania State University. High performing team skills were taught to one half of the sample design teams during three different two hour "intervention" sessions. The intervention sessions included: (1) an earthquake exercise, (2) a role playing exercise, and (3) an after action review. Team performance was measured using team quizzes, peer evaluations, and a blind evaluation of the project work. In addition to the intervention results, plans to further the research are discussed.
  7. Okudan, G.E., Horner, D., Bogue, B., Devon, R. and Russell, M. (2002) An Investigation of Gender Composition on Integrated Project Team Performance: Part II, Proceedings, ASEE International Colloquium on Engineering Education
    Abstract This study presents the quantitative results of an investigation designed to measure the effects of gender composition on integrated project teams as measured by two dependent variables: 1) team performance, and 2) team cohesion. The duration of the study was 16 weeks during which two design projects were completed. Team performance was measured using: 1) team quizzes, 2) design demonstrations, 3) peer evaluations, and 4) blind evaluation of team reports. Criteria for project performance included thoroughness of the project report, submission timeliness, compliance to project requirements, and utilization of engineering problem solving skills.

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