Successful group work is a critical facet of engineering design. In addition to simply increasing the manpower available to solve a particular problem, team settings also leverage the variety of thinking offered by each individual. There are any number of functional behaviors that one might offer a team. This paper explores the idea that design journal records can provide key insight into the functional activities taken on by team members. The main questions asked by this study include (1) Can design journals provide consistent information about an individual’s functional behavior? (2) Are individuals likely to shift behaviors over the course of the project’s timeline? (3) Do individuals adapt to compensate for design behavior changes in other team members?
The data in this study was collected from five volunteer teams of five to six undergraduate students each (total N = 29). At the time of their participation in the study, the volunteers were enrolled in the University of Maryland’s mechanical engineering capstone design course, Integrated Product and Process Development. Four of the teams participated in fall 2015 and one team participated in spring 2014. Participants maintained individual journals throughout their semester-long design projects, after receiving a set of guidelines to steer but not restrict journal usage. After the projects were completed, journals were coded using a previously validated coding scheme which associates each journal entry with a design behavior class and activity.
Findings for this pilot study were very encouraging. Design journals proved to be a viable source of information about the functional behaviors of individuals. The majority of the undergraduate participants in this study were found to regularly shift their focuses to different behaviors as their projects progressed. When these shifts occurred, other team members regularly shifted to accommodate the change and maintain overall similar levels of activity in each area of functional behavior for the team as a whole throughout the project’s timeline.