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Pages: 2-12

Emotional intelligence provides indicators for team performance in an engineering course

Author: Robert M. Leicht, Gretchen A. Macht, David R. Riley, John I. Messner

Category: Project Organization Studies

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As the Architectural Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry embraces new ideas and new technologies, there is an escalated need for integration. Unfortunately, the incorporation of highly functional collaborative skills within a team-like framework is not often a specific focus in collegiate engineering classes. This contrasts with industry, where an increased awareness of the advantages of teams and collaboration skills is well appreciated. This paper provides an introduction to emotional intelligence (EI) and the importance of EI to the AEC community. Here, we describe an exploratory study, which was undertaken to identify which EI traits of students were linked to success in a team-based undergraduate construction engineering course. Ninety-five students were randomly divided into teams to complete projects during the Spring 2008 semester. Individual exam scores, project scores, and team member evaluations were compared with individual trait assessments, using the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i). The resulting analysis identifies specific individual team member traits that may lead to improved performance in team projects. The relationship between team performance and EI was explored from a three-pronged perspective, using the mean, the maximum and the range of each of the aggregated EQ-i components for the team as a whole. The results showed three areas with significant correlation to team performance, with all three involving the range of team-aggregated EQ-i traits. The outcomes suggest a balance in a team, when team selection is based on EI scores, can impact team outcomes. The results of the study will be used to improve professional and collaborative skills in the undergraduate engineering curriculum at Penn State and may be extended to other institutions.

Keywords: Emotional intelligence, engineering education, high-performance teams

DOI: 10.1080/21573727.2012.743118