Engineering Teams: Collaboration and Inclusion


Explore strategies and best practices to teach and assess collaboration and inclusive environments in chemical engineering teams.

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  • Discuss the need for collaborative and inclusive teams in learning settings
  • Evaluate teaching strategies to promote collaborative and inclusive environments within teams 
  • Collaboratively create a repository of team building examples and practices that the participants can use in their classrooms.
  • Discuss different ways for team formation that foster collaboration and an inclusive environment (e.g., strategies, tools, software)
  • Discuss teaching and assessment strategies that build effective team collaborations (e.g., tasks, project management, communication, tools, team charters or community agreements)
  • Discuss teaching and assessment strategies to create inclusive environment in teams (e.g., trust, conflict management, psychological safety) 
  • Reflect and discuss actionable examples, best practices, and resources

Repository of Activities

1. Team Formation

Diverse teams are more creative and perform better than homogeneous teams, so promoting diversity in the initial forming stage is essential. Engineering faculty that form teams relying only on experience, subjective perception, and instinct may result in a non-automated, human-dependent, error-prone, and biased process due to the multivariable complexity of human social reality (De Dreu, 2003). This approach becomes challenging for large enrollment classes. Therefore, common practices among engineering faculty include letting students self-select their teammates or randomly assign them. Even though student-selected teams demonstrate more social cohesion, they have a higher chance of suffering from “group think” bias because they avoid social and task conflict to preserve their friendship. It is a common misconception to assume that students who are friends tend to work more effectively in a team. Even though this practice may seem the easiest way to form a team, it may lead to conflict, lack of diversity, and problems with inclusion. The next best thing seems then to be assigning students randomly into groups. Even though this practice does minimize some of the biases mentioned before, it does not consider the student’s social reality and circumstances that can influence their full involvement within their team, such as scheduling, gender, ability, demographics, etc.

These are some strategies you can use:

  • Team building software uses students’ self-reporting attributes during the team formation process. Therefore, as engineers, we are using software seems like the next step. No software comes with its advantages and limitations. We will only mention some of them, but you are welcome to share any other resources and feedback you have about them with us so we can make this repository more robust. Some examples include: CATME; Teammates; WebPA; Sparkplus (We are not receiving monetary compensation for sharing these links)
  • Student-ranked project ideas (or problems) involve students pre-selecting projects which best align with their interests, then are randomly placed into groups by the instructor. This activity promotes motivation and “buy-in” for each individual. The instructor can do this manually or use Excel to assign students into groups randomly (check this YouTube Video).

2. Strategies for individual and team accountability

It is important that the teams are equipped with training on how to define roles and responsibilities for each team member and distribute tasks as equally as possible. Useful project management tools to meet timelines, budget and project scope requirements:

  • Gantt Charts, setting meeting agendas, and taking meeting minutes

3. Strategies for peer evaluation and feedback

It is important that students evaluate team members over the course of the project to give a true sense of how each team member contributed to the final product as well as how they collaborated with their team members.

Some strategies include:

  • Request the students divide 100 points among their team members based on their contributions to the project. The points are then averaged for each student and then normalized to the number of points which would represent equal contribution among all team members (i.e. in a group of 4, equal contribution would be represented as 25 points each). The point distributions are then factored into their participation grade in the course.
  • use online peer feedback tools, such as CATME or Teammates, which have a set of questions that as each team member to rate their contributions to the team and their team members. They also can give constructive feedback to their team members anonymously. These tools allow students to provide team related feedback to their teammates in a positive and non-threatening manner. These results can be used to evaluate individual performance on a team and evaluate if fairness and psychological safety are being fostered in a team.



  • Harris, C. E., Pritchard, M. S., & Rabins, M. J. (1995). Engineering ethics: Concepts and cases. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth.

Journals and Articles


Thanks for the support:

The American Institute for Chemical Engineers

“This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (2106206)”

Content offered:

  • June 28th, 2022, ASEE Annual Conference