Linda Schmidt

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Research Project:

Assessing the Impact of Early Specialization on Learning and Development in Engineering Student Projects

project poster imageNational Science Foundation DUE-0536433, 6/01/06-5/31/09


Linda C. Schmidt
Paige E. Smith
Janet A. Schmidt
Patricia Alexander

Project Goals

The work studies the development of role specialization on project teams during a student's undergraduate education and the degree to which specialization on team projects influences students' individual learning.
Project Methods
This is a mixed methods study using Self Efficacy measures (Lent), focus group data analysis, and Dr. P. Alexander's Model of Domain Learning to understand how student's "learn" in teams. Fourteen (14) focus groups were planned and 18 were conducted.

Project Evaluation

Focus group data from the first year teams will provide the “baseline” for determining the relationship between functional roles, self efficacy and steps toward the development of expertise. The team is preceding with content analysis on the focus group transcripts.

Project Impact

Understanding the impact of specialization on teams will inform faculty to (1) structure assignments to provide opportunity for individual assessment on skills and knowledge comprising course learning outcomes; and (2) form teams so that members exploit specialization in skills and knowledge that will improve project outcomes without stifling individual learning. This study will provide evidence on the ability of women on engineering teams to avoid stereotypical roles. The use of Alexander's Model of Domain Learning will contribute to the understanding of the evelopment of competency in engineering course subjects. This will inform faculty on appropriate course structuring.


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