Building Student Capacity for High Performance Teamwork

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



Building Student Capacity for High Performance Team work, It is generally known that effective teams can produce outcomes that exceed those of individuals.However, engineering graduates typically receive little instruction on how to develop a team into a state of high performance. Consequently, student teams do not perform to the level they should, and graduates are ill-prepared for the work environment in which they often must develop productive cross-functional teams. This paper presents a research-based plan for identifying and teaching teamwork knowledge and skills essential for high performance teams.A conceptual framework for teamwork (see figure) shows elements of teamwork and their relationships in making high performance teams. Importantly, teams must maintain dual focuses to achieve as outputs both team development and project completion. Inputs to teamwork include both contributions made by individual members and those made collectively in execution of team processes. Teams must control these inputs by establishing member roles and responsibilities, contractual obligations to stakeholders, and project schedules. Productive teams will demonstrate progress in (a) developing supportive team relationships, (b) enabling work done jointly by members, (c) coordinating work done by individual members, and (d) managing information used by the team. The final outputs of effective teams will be exceptional team development and impressive project completion.Engineering faculty and project mentors are challenged to develop students’ capacity for performing as effective teams. To achieve these outcomes, faculty, mentors, and students need clear definition of teamwork performances – both individual member contributions and team process performances.Students and their project mentors also must be motivated to achieve these performances. This paper defines expected individual and team performances for building team relationships, working together,working individually, and managing team information. Motivation and achievement are enhanced when mentors and students review and revise these targeted performances to which they will be held accountable.This paper also presents a rationale for distributing instruction across the curriculum and promotes the cognitive apprenticeship method of instruction for building team skills consistently in engineering students. This paper will provide engineering faculty and project mentors the knowledge and resources from which to develop the capacity in engineering students to become high performance teams.


Integrated Engineering

Publication Title

2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition