Abstract

There is growing evidence on the importance of psychological safety, or how comfortable participants feel in sharing their opinions and ideas in a team, in engineering team performance. However, how to support it in engineering student teams has yet to be explored. The goal of this study was to investigate whether a video intervention with assigned roles could foster psychological safety in student engineering teams. In addition, we sought to explore the impact of the frequency of the videos and the utility of the roles on the self-efficacy of students and the perceived psychological safety of the team. Specifically, this study introduces video interventions and the four lenses of psychological safety (Turn-Taking Equalizer, Point of View Shifter, Affirmation Advocate, and Creativity Promoter), and seeks to determine their effectiveness at increasing psychological safety self-efficacy and individual levels of psychological safety. A pilot study was completed with 54 participants (36 males, 17 females, 1 non-binary/third gender) enrolled in a cornerstone engineering design course. Over 10 weeks, data was collected at 5 time points. The results present four key findings. Most notably, 1) a video educating all students about psychological safety in general was effective in improving psychological safety self-efficacy and students retained this information to the end of the project;2) intervention groups taught to use the four lenses did not have a statistically significant higher level of psychological safety than nonintervention groups; and 3) intervention groups perceived the use of the lenses to increase psychological safety. These results provide a baseline understanding that is needed to support psychological safety including: when to intervene, how to intervene, and how frequently to intervene.

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