Considering Capstone Team Member Roles with a Shared Leadership Framework

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Center for Innovation and Engineering

Publication Date

Spring 5-20-2019

Publication Title

International Journal of Engineering Education

Document Type



Managing student roles and responsibilities in team-based courses often presents challenges for both faculty and students. At the 2018 Capstone Design Conference, a panel discussion specifically addressed the impact of roles and responsibilities on teams in capstone design. This paper summarizes the main discussion points of that panel session and relates these topics to a model of shared leadership and distributed influence in the innovation process. The shared leadership model addressed in this study combines an Input-Process-Output (IPO) model from research on teams with existing leadership behavior literature to link team characteristics and leadership practices to team responses and team effectiveness. The students and faculty that comprised the panel represented diverse areas: engineering practice, military teams, academia, and undergraduate design. Detailed notes from the panel session were analyzed by panel members to identify themes and current practices that emerged from the discussion. These themes and practices were mapped to the existing shared leadership model to situate the phenomena in the larger IPO model and positions the phenomena in current organizational leadership literature. The result of this study is a capstone design-specific adaptation of the existing shared leadership model. This model provides capstone faculty and students a more comprehensive framework in which to consider how team roles and responsibilities may affect team response and effectiveness. Conclusions from this study stress the criticality of capstone design faculty in team formation to foster shared leadership. The framework suggests that shared leadership within the team may elicit positive team response through accountability and responsibility and will lead to greater team effectiveness. Specific recommendations for capstone design courses are offered and recommendations for future research are addressed.Managing student roles and responsibilities in team-based courses often presents challenges for both faculty and students.

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