Team function: Student-driven rules and consequences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to effectively work in teams is a highly desirable quality in engineering graduates. Building these skills is essential to training students to participate successfully in the workplace. Further, given that much of engineering is taught in a team environment, how well the team functions is directly related to student learning of the course material. Team dysfunction creates two significant consequences in the classroom. First, students do not learn the necessary elements to function well in a team. While college students can most often complete assigned tasks with even low functioning teams, they will not be able to do so in an industrial environment. Second, student learning of the topical material that the team is working on is reduced. When a few members, or an individual, decide to take over the completion of the assignments this creates a situation with a few students learning the material (those who completed the assignment) and the rest relying on group grading. To increase both student understanding of the rules and consequences, and increase buy-in, at the eginning of the semester, students develop their own set of rules. This paper reports on the effect of team rules and the concomitant consequences that were developed by the students on team functioning. Results of a multivariate analysis of variance shows that students perceived that they followed that rules significantly more than the other members of their group, that they were assigned more work than their peers, that they completed more work that their groups members, and the quality of their own work was higher. Interestingly, when asked about issues of rule-breaking that arose out of their groups, many individuals cited issues but ultimately failed to follow the agreed upon procedures for addressing those incidents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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