The Impact of Structured Writing and Developing Awareness of Learning Preferences on the Performance and Attitudes of Engineering Teams

ABSTRACT

This paper discusses efforts to develop metacognition in teams of engineering students by: first, exploring personal learning patterns, and second, ongoing biweekly journaling exercises. Thirty-three junior and senior engineering students (30 chemical engineer, one each from mechanical, civil and electrical) working on semester-long projects in the Rowan Engineering Clinics were broken into four groups. Members of the first determined their learning patterns by taking the Learning Connections Inventory (LCI) then met with faculty advisors to discuss their patterns and those of their teammates. The second group performed structured writing assignments focusing on team dynamics and logistical barriers to success. The third received both LCI instruction and the writing assignments, while the fourth received neither. Students who received instruction on their own learning patterns as well as those of their teammates performed better on semester-long team projects and reported a significant improvement in their attitude towards teaming skills. Structured writing assignments focusing on team dynamics also seemed to benefit performance, but were less popular with the students.

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Kevin Dahm, James Newell, and Heidi Newell
Department of Chemical Engineering
Rowan University
Glassboro, NJ 08028

Roberta Harvey
Department of Writing Arts
Rowan University
Glassboro, NJ 08028

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