Student Facebook connections in a Global Project Based Engineering Design Course

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Suzuki, Sushi; Leifer, Larry
Section: Design Education and Lifelong Learning
Page(s): 215-226


In this study, thirty-five students in eight teams were surveyed on their use of different communication technologies during a two-week design exercise. In addition, the three teaching assistants were also surveyed to evaluate the student teams on their design and design process. While no correlation was identified between communication mode usage and team effectiveness, the following issues were discovered: Teams found face-to-face, e-mail, and telephony to be the most useful and in that particular order. Larger teams valued passive communication and used it for more purposes. Members on teams that worked well together reported that time spent on the project was more evenly distributed amongst the teammates. Teaching assistants were able to sense how well the team was working together, but not how the teams perceived their performance. Teams with more Facebook connections used more communication modes for more purposes. Because of the small sample size, none of the above points were proven with statistical rigor. However, they did provide potential opportunities for further research.

Keywords: design education, communication, student design teams, team cohesion, team work


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