Online communication among student design teams
Author(s)Van de Zande, Georgia D
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
David R. Wallace.
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New technological developments are quickly changing the ways the product design community communicates in the workplace and in the classroom. Slack, an online communication software with some project management features, has become a popular communication tool among many workers and students. This thesis examines the Slack conversation conducted by 16 student product development teams in a course at MIT, 2.009: Product Engineering Processes. Following a typical product development process, teams of 17-20 students each used the online communication tool in addition to face-to-face meetings to design new products in one semester. The resulting conversations were analyzed for message count over the course of the semester, message count by day of the week and hour of the day, message count breakdown by user, and communication organization. From these results, it was observed that teams tended to increase their communication right before a deadline and decrease it right after. When viewing teams' communication patterns by day of the week and the hour of the day, it was seen that many teams increased their communication in a short period after team meetings. In both of these graphs, successful teams tended to have more consistent communication. There was a positive correlation (granted, with low a R-squared value) between the amount teams report working on the class and their Slack activity by day. When looking at a team's total amount of communication, it may indicate team members are working well, but it may also indicate they are struggling. Teams with higher levels of success tended to have a more organized communication structure than teams with lower levels of success, as assessed by instructors. In addition to the data collected in this thesis, further research is still needed to understand with more certainty how online communication patterns correlate to teams' levels of success or team behaviors.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 79-82).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology