DS 95: Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2019), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. 12th -13th September 2019

Year: 2019
Editor: Bohemia, Erik; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Buck, Lyndon; Brisco, Ross; Evans, Dorothy; Grierson, Hilary; Ion, William; Whitfield, Robert Ian
Author: Anderson, John C; Benjamin, Stacy
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Northwestern University, United States of America
Section: Cultural 1
DOI number:
ISBN: 978-1-912254-05-7


We present an approach for coaching design team members to give qualitative feedback to each other in an upper-level undergraduate design project course. Each student is required to give their teammates both positive and negative feedback, and to use the BET (behavior, effect, thanks) and BEAR (behavior, effect, alternative, result) feedback models (Harms and Roebuck, 2010). Both models include a specific description of a teammate’s behavior and its effect on the team’s performance. A BET concludes with a thank-you, while a BEAR goes on to discuss alternatives to the behavior, and the anticipated results. Students exchange BET and BEAR feedback at several points during their design project. The feedback assignments are part of a larger set of assignments that require teams to evaluate their own teamwork and project management, both together and individually. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of effective teamwork. However, students sometimes struggle to give sufficiently precise feedback. We find that using these models helps them give both praise and criticism that are easier to receive, and easier to act upon. Over the past ten plus years, we have experimented with a number of teamwork assessment tools, in a range of project-based design classes. We have found that the BET and BEAR assignments often yield better results than more complex assessment frameworks. They allow us to reinforce general principles about effective teamwork while remaining simple to explain, easy to apply, and applicable to a wide range of team- and project types. In the past, we have required students to submit their BET and BEAR feedback using spreadsheet templates; we have introduced a web-based version of the assignment that we think will make it easier for students to deliver more high-quality feedback more frequently and more easily. We discuss not only what we have learned from using these models in our courses over time, but also what a comparison of the old and new systems reveals about students’ needs and preferences when learning to give and receive feedback. We also offer practical suggestions for incorporating these models into team-based, project-based design courses.

Keywords: teamwork, feedback, qualitative, interdisciplinary, design


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