OVERVIEW

The Building Engineering Student Team Effectiveness and Management Systems (BESTEAMS) project developed from a first-hand awareness of the importance of successful student team experiences as well as an understanding of the difficulties experienced by faculty in facilitating such interactions.  Supported by an NSF grant (DUE-CCLI-0089079), BESTEAMS’ early work included establishing baseline understanding of engineering faculty's opinions and experience in teamworw.  Faculty member interviews conducted at four different types of educational environments (a large public urban institution, a historically black college, a US military college and a predominately African American university) revealed commitment to using engineering project teams in the classroom.  However, most faculty members reported no formal training in teaching teams how to work well together in order to maximize learning.  The BESTEAMS project was initiated to meet this challenge by creating a comprehensive teamwork curriculum especially for the engineering classroom. 

BESTEAMS was founded in 1997 by a group of female mechanical engineering faculty members at the University of Maryland.  These scholars sought to transform the academic and professional engineering environments to be accessible for all engineers…especially women.  To encourage positive change, the BESTEAMS project strove to train engineering students to recognize and accept diverse learning, communication, and behavior styles in themselves and in their colleagues, independent of gender.  Because of the importance of teams and teamwork in engineering practice, the team was selected as the central organizing concept around which to fashion this improved learning environment. Implementing the material available on this webpage will heighten students’ awareness of differences in learning and communication styles, as well as how these differences can affect team dynamics and productivity.  As a result, discussions of diversity can avoid gender or racial stereotypes and increase student understanding of the many approaches human beings employ for accomplishing tasks.

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