Example No. 4: Susan Voss, Donna Riley, and Borjana Mikic, Picker Engineering Program, Smith College
- A major component of our first-year engineering course involves a semester-long design project that is completed by four-member teams that instructors assign during week two of the semester.
- To assign teams, we qualitatively use results from the Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) so that each team has a mixture of personality types. In-class time is devoted to discussing the four dimensions of personality type and the implications of individual preferences for working successfully with others.
- To minimize the problem of teams finding common times to meet, the class has an assigned lab period of three hours each week. Teams can choose to meet at anytime, but they are assured to have this common three-hour block.
- We emphasize to the students the stages of team formation and the importance of communication. Initially, teams are required to develop a set of "ground rules" that all team members agree to. If difficulties arise, we first revisit this document with the team as a starting point for discussion. Additionally, we meet with each team several times throughout the semester. At each meeting, each team member is asked to bring a written list of two things that are going well with the team's function and two suggestions for improvement related to the team's performance. Each team member takes a turn and shares the positive comments, and then each team member states the areas that she has identified that would improve the team's function. These comments often lead to further discussion.
- For each of several "deliverables" related to the design project, we use peer assessment to assign individual grades from the group grade based on the model presented by Kaufman et al.