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

Example No. 1: Bill Moor, Industrial Engineering, Arizona State University

  • My teams in junior/senior industrial engineering courses nominally have 5 members. I never have groups smaller than four or larger than six.
  • I select teams using a semi-random stratified selection. The following factors are explicitly considered. Heterogeneity or homogeneity is sought for the reasons indicated.
    • Class standing (heterogeneity). The mixture of experiences is positive.
    • Major (heterogeneity). Most sources indicate interdisciplinary teams are a positive characteristic.
    • I use GPA as a measure of intellectual attainment (heterogeneity). Most of the sources I have seen say a mixture is a good.
    • Native language (hetero/homogeneity). On the one hand, I try to have at least two native English speakers in every team but don't worry about the mixture otherwise. Arguably, the non-English speakers suffer a cultural deficit without a compatriot in the team. On the other hand, I often have many single samples of non-English speakers. I feel that it is better to make certain that the team can write reports, homework, term papers, etc. in English.
    • Typing speed (heterogeneity). I try to assign one moderately skilled typist to every group.
    • Gender (hetero/homogeneity). If there is one female team member, there will be at least one other (if possible). Colleagues in the Women's Program in Engineering have emphasized the need for mutual support in an atmosphere that is still strongly male dominated.
    • Distance from campus (homogeneity). Many times this is student requested. We are a commuter campus, and I use the compass (northwest quadrant, southeast quadrant) when it appears necessary.
    • Special factors. For example, I teach a course in engineering management. I collect "years of management experience" and then try to distribute that experience across teams.
  • I form teams at least twice (and frequently three times) during the course of the semester. I usually use the calendar as a basis (two teams, seven weeks each; three teams, five weeks each) but occasionally use the nature of the projects to be done as a basis (a term project occupying ten weeks would be done by the same team).
  • I typically allow the teams to turn in all forms of class assignment work (homework, laboratory report, plant-tour report, term-project reports), but all quizzes and tests are done individually.
  • At the end of each team assignment period all members of the team evaluate the relative contributions of all team members of the team (including self). This information is consolidated, normalized, and used as a multiplier for the scores received by each student in the team. I do not allow a student to downgrade only one other student, nor do I allow a student to inflate the rankings of only one other student (including self).

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