Exploration of Engineering Students’ Values with Respect to Behaviors in Group Work

Robert L. Nagel, Eric C. Pappas, Matthew S. Swain, Gretchen A. Hazard


In order to train young professionals, instructional methodologies in engineering need not only teach students knowledge, but must also instill the values and teach the behaviors—competencies students can demonstrate—required of professional practice. Herein, we focus on understanding the values and behaviors of students with respect to working as a member of an engineering group as a part of a course project. Our hypotheses are (1) that the students’ values with respect to the behavior of individuals in a group will remain stable through the academic year and (2) there will be behavioral predictors to group-based values. Our findings agree with the literature on societal groups which indicate that values should remain constant over time; we see here with our cohort of students that values not only remain stable, but also, students maintain high agreement through the academic year. With respect to behavior predictors, the behaviors that repeatedly correlated or predicted positive group values were related to interpersonal skills rather than knowledge or learning. This finding is important as it points to a noted necessity to foster strong interpersonal skills among students. Students need to recognize that how they interact with their group is just as important as the skills being brought to the group. The results presented herein are a first step toward creating a “personalized” instructional approach that focuses on aligning individual values and behaviors when working in an engineering group.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v4n2p181


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International Journal of Higher Education
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