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  • Investigating Shared Leadership in Undergraduate Capstone Design Teams

    Brian John Novoselich

    Dissertation submitted to the faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State

    University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy

    In

    Engineering Education

    David B. Knight, Chair

    Eric K. Kaufman

    Holly M. Matusovich

    Marie C. Paretti

    15 March, 2016

    Blacksburg, VA

    Keywords: Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Design, Shared Leadership,

    Social Network Analysis, Transformational Leadership

    Copyright Brian J. Novoselich, 2016

  • Investigating Shared Leadership in Undergraduate Capstone Design Teams

    Brian John Novoselich

    ABSTRACT (Academic)

    Leadership is an area of increasing interest for the engineering profession. Strategic

    documents assert the need for engineers to take more prominent leadership roles to better

    inform complex policy decisions. Engineering leadership scholars assert, however that

    adequate models of how engineers lead do not exist and that traditional leadership models

    are contrary to the collaborative norms of engineering practice. To address this gap in

    engineering leadership literature, this dissertation develops a model of how engineering

    students lead in team-based design project environments, an example of the collaborative

    environment that is commonplace in engineering practice.

    This quantitative study used a combination of round-robin (360-degree) survey data

    and course grades to examine the Full Range of Leadership within mechanical

    engineering-centric capstone design teams. Using a combination of cluster analyses,

    social network analyses, and regression analyses in a three manuscript approach, this

    dissertation 1) validated a Mechanical Engineering capstone version of the Full Range of

    Leadership, 2) determined the degree of shared leadership within the teams and how to

    classify teams based on their degree of shared leadership, and 3) related shared leadership

    to both team effectiveness and team attributes.

    The study resulted in a shared leadership model for engineering design teams. The

    model represents leadership as a three-form, shared phenomenon within teams. The

    amount of leadership within the team relates positively to both the group process and

    satisfaction measures of team effectiveness, but not to task performance. This

    relationship is moderated by the distribution of leadership, indicating that a limited

    amount of shared leadership may be more effective. Selected team attributes are related

    to the degree of shared leadership within the teams. The results broaden our

    conceptualization of leadership beyond an individual phenomenon, making it a shared

    phenomenon that is an integral component of design teamwork as it relates to design

    team effectiveness.

  • Investigating Shared Leadership in Undergraduate Capstone Design Teams

    Brian John Novoselich

    ABSTRACT (Public)

    Leadership is an area of increasing interest for the engineering profession. Strategic

    documents assert the need for engineers to take more prominent leadership roles to better

    inform complex policy decisions. Engineering leadership scholars assert, however, that

    adequate models of how engineers lead do not exist and that traditional leadership models

    are contrary to the collaborative norms of engineering practice. To address this gap in

    engineering leadership literature, this dissertation develops a model of how engineering

    students lead in team-based design project environments, which is a collaborative

    environment that is commonplace in engineering practice.

    This quantitative study used a combination of round-robin (360-degree) survey data

    and course grades to examine the leadership within senior-level, undergraduate

    mechanical engineering capstone design teams. Using a combination of analytical

    methods in a three manuscript approach, this dissertation 1) validated a new version of

    the Full Range of Leadership model for senior-level mechanical engineering students, 2)

    determined the degree of shared leadership within the teams and how to classify teams

    based on their degree of shared leadership, and 3) related shared leadership to both team

    effectiveness and team attributes.

    The study resulted in a three-form, shared leadership model for engineering design

    teams. The amount of leadership within the team relates positively to a teams extra

    effort and team member satisfaction, but not to the teams course grades. These

    relationships are diminished as leadership is more distributed across team members,

    indicating that a limited amount of shared leadership may be more effective. Certain

    team attributes also relate to the degree of shared leadership within the teams. The results

    broaden our conceptualization of leadership beyond an individual phenomenon, making it

    a shared phenomenon that is an integral component of design teamwork as it relates to

    design team effectiveness.

  • iv

    Dedication

    To Janet

    Thank you for your loving support of my many endeavors.

    Sometimes you can see me better than I can see myself.

    To John and Andrew

    May this dissertation be an example of what you can achieve when you believe in

    yourself, set goals, and work hard. Thank you for being a source of inspiration and a joy.

  • v

    Acknowledgements

    I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. David B. Knight. I truly

    appreciate your continued support to my academic development. Thank you for joining

    me on this Ph.D. journey. I find myself very lucky that we both became Hokies in the

    same semester. Dr. Holly Matusovich, thank you for making me feel a part of the team,

    even from as far away as Afghanistan. I appreciate the early introduction to the writing

    support group and for helping me laugh and remember that, its a process. To Dr. Eric

    Kaufman, thank you for opening my eyes to a wider view of the leadership phenomenon.

    Yours was the first classroom I entered on this Ph.D. journey and I am a better person for

    the experience. Dr. Marie Paretti, thank you for introducing me to design education

    research and the capstone design community. The possibilities are endless, and the

    rewards to the student are many.

    To the capstone coordinators and collaborators at all three research sites. Your

    selfless support to this research project was critical to its success.

    Thank you to the DEEP lab and the members of cognitive adjustment hour. I am

    privileged to call you my academic siblings. Your suggestions and support were critical

    to getting over the bumps and through the tough times. Thank you for making the past

    three years a great experience. I look forward to working together in the future.

    To Mom and Dad, Debbie, Chris, Brad, and Emily. Thanks for your continued support

    through my many exciting endeavors. Not in my wildest dreams could I envision

    transitioning from combat in Afghanistan to getting a Ph.D. in Blacksburg, Virginia.

  • vi

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    List of Tables ........................................................................................................................... x

    List of Figures ....................................................................................................................... xiii

    Chapter 1 .................................................................................................................................. 1

    1.1 Leadership Development for Undergraduate Engineering Students ............................. 1

    1.2 Need for this Research ................................................................................................... 3

    1.3 Purpose of the Study ...................................................................................................... 5

    1.4 Methods Overview ........................................................................................................ 8

    1.5 Significance of the Study ............................................................................................... 8

    1.5.1 Implications for Research ....................................................................................... 8

    1.5.2 Implications for Practice ......................................................................................... 9

    1.6 Definitions ................................................................................................................... 10

    Chapter 2 ................................................................................................................................ 13

    2.1 Population and Sample Justification ............................................................................ 13

    2.2 Site Selection and Demographics ................................................................................ 13

    2.3 Capstone Design Course Comparison ......................................................................... 14

    Chapter 3 ................................................................................................................................ 20

    3.1 Abstract ...........................................................................................................

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