Engineering Education Glossary

Hey there!

This is a repository of definitions I keep close to me when articulating my thoughts on this site. As learning does, it may evolve with time.


Conflict: the process teams experience resulting from the tension between members due to real or perceived differences. Conflict in teams can be classified as relationship (social) or task conflict based on social or task input from its members. Examples of relationship (social) conflict include issues related to personal taste, political preferences, and values. Examples of task conflict include concerns associated with the distribution of resources, procedures and policies, and judgments and interpretation of facts. (De Dreu, 2003)

Group potency: the collective belief of group members that the group can be effective. The team is capable of using this new information to generate useful results. This fosters a team’s confidence, collective motivation and performance. [Van den Bossche, 2006]

Group think: occurs when a group of well-intentioned people makes irrational or non-optimal decisions provoked by the desire to conform or avoid conflict. The group think bias may occur when actions are taken because group members value harmony and coherence above critical thought. Examples are: (1) individuals tend to refrain from expressing doubts and judgments or disagreeing with the consensus; (2) individuals ignore ethical or moral consequences to support the group cause; (3) social or ideological conformity, such as participating in bullying or rationalizing a poor decision being made by one’s friends. [Physiology Today]

Psychological Safety– the belief they will not be rejected for bringing in new meanings. Individuals feel secure and capable of changing. In other word a save fail/learn environment where mistakes are part of the learning process and not a personal flaw.

Social cohesion: refer to the nature and quality of the emotional bonds related to belonginess in the group. [Van den Bossche, 2006]

Task Cohesion: a shared commitment to achieve a goal that required the collective effort of the group. [Van den Bossche, 2006]