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.
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.