The trajectory of psychological safety in engineering teams: A longitudinal exploration in engineering design education

Scarlett Miller, Kathryn Jablokow, Jacqueline Marhefka, Susan Mohammed, Katie Heininger, Sarah Ritter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Although teamwork is being integrated throughout engineering education because of the perceived benefits of teams, the construct of psychological safety has been largely ignored in engineering research. This omission is unfortunate, because psychological safety reflects collective perceptions about how comfortable team members feel in sharing their perspectives and it has been found to positively impact team performance in samples outside of engineering [20]. Engineering team research has also been crippled by “snap-shot” methodologies and the resulting lack of investigation into the dynamic changes that happen within a team over course projects. This is problematic, because we do not know when, how, or what type of interventions are needed to effectively improve “t-shaped” engineering skills like teamwork, communication, and engaging successfully in a diverse team. In light of these issues, the goal of the current study was to understand how psychological safety might be measured practically and reliably in engineering student teams over time. In addition, we sought to identify the trajectory of psychological safety for engineering design student teams and identify the potential factors that impact the building and waning of psychological safety in these teams. This was accomplished through a 4-week study with 12 engineering design teams where data was captured at six time points. The results of this study present some of the first evidence on the reliability of psychological safety in engineering student populations. The results also help begin to answer some difficult fundamental questions on supporting team performance in engineering education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication31st International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791859278
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
EventASME 2019 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC-CIE 2019 - Anaheim, United States
Duration: Aug 18 2019Aug 21 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference
Volume7

Conference

ConferenceASME 2019 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC-CIE 2019
CountryUnited States
CityAnaheim
Period8/18/198/21/19

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Modeling and Simulation

Cite this

Miller, S., Jablokow, K., Marhefka, J., Mohammed, S., Heininger, K., & Ritter, S. (2019). The trajectory of psychological safety in engineering teams: A longitudinal exploration in engineering design education. In 31st International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology (Proceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference; Vol. 7). American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). https://doi.org/10.1115/DETC2019-97562