Purdue University Graduate School
Behzad's Disserteration (deposit-final).pdf (881.97 kB)


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posted on 2020-08-12, 20:44 authored by Behzad BeigpourianBehzad Beigpourian

Engineering students are expected to develop professional skills in addition to their technical knowledge as outcomes of accredited engineering programs. Among the most critical professional skills is the ability to work effectively in a team. Working effectively in teams has learning benefits and also provides an environment for developing other professional skills such as communication, leadership skills, and time management. However, students will develop those skills only if their teams function effectively.

This dissertation includes three studies that together inform team formation and management practices to improve team dynamics. The first study investigates mixed-gender team dynamics to determine whether those teams are realizing their potential. The second study explores the relationship of individual psychological safety and students’ team member effectiveness and the moderating effects of team-level psychological safety. The third study explores self-rating bias among first-year engineering students and its relationship to student characteristics and dimensions of team-member effectiveness.

Although mixed-gender teams had equal team dynamics with all-male teams, more team facilitation and training are needed to improve the experience of mixed-gender teams. Asian, Black, and Hispanic/Latino students, as well as students with lower GPA, report lower psychological safety, which is associated with lower team-member effectiveness. Team-level psychological safety moderated this effect for Asian and Hispanic/Latino students. Students’ effort in teams was associated with lower self-rating bias, likely an indication of greater self-awareness. Together, these studies and their findings contribute to a broader understanding that there are interrelationships among team composition, team dynamics, and team-member effectiveness, and that these relationships differ based on student characteristics such as race/ethnicity, gender, and prior knowledge. This work adds to the body of research demonstrating the importance of teaching students about effective teamwork, conducting regular peer evaluations of team functioning, and interpreting those peer evaluations carefully to avoid perpetuating any biases. This work also demonstrates the usefulness of psychological safety as an important indicator of marginalization.


Optimizing Student Team Skill Development using Evidence-Based Strategies

Directorate for Education & Human Resources

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Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Engineering Education

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Matthew W Ohland

Additional Committee Member 2

Allison F. Godwin

Additional Committee Member 3

Brent K. Jesiek

Additional Committee Member 4

Anne P. Gardner