Handle with care: coaching multi-diverse project groups to become healthy desing teams

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


In the IPD master at Industrial Design Engineering (TU Delft) we see a growing diversity in students. In recent years, the number of international students has grown to more than 1/3rd. Besides nationalities we also see differences in prior education, socio-emotional aspects and competences. In one of the master courses Advanced Embodiment Design (AED), students work in teams on a client-based design project for one semester (21European Credits). The student teams are supervised by coaches on a weekly basis. In recent years we increasingly noticed that the differences in background can lead to complications within the various teams. Examples are communication confusion, frustration and sometimes interpersonal collisions. There is a growing gap between the team members on cognitive and socio-emotional aspects and their ability to deal with this constructively. Within our team of coaches we therefore focus mainly on keeping teams functioning in a healthy way and to a lesser extinct on content and project results. With the course we want to offer students the opportunity to experience and perform in a successful team, acknowledge every students input and experience a successful result. To implement this vision and support our student teams, we started out with a project-group tracking-system using key performance indicators. The KPI’s gave the group of coaches insight in the performance of their own student groups relative to that of other groups. With this tracking system we quickly could pinpoint troublesome groups and individuals, which were used to lead our discussions during weekly coach meetings. During our weekly meeting we only discussed troublesome groups and tried to come to applicable solutions which could be implemented immediately. The solutions were found in literature, experiences within our own coach team, and making use of external experts. This paper presents our findings on improving multi-diverse team-performance by close tracking their performance. We will focus on three major aspects of our findings: measuring student projects’ performance during the course, our experience and dealings with diversity in student teams, and on how the collaborating coach-team helped in maximizing student-team performance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE)
EditorsLyndon Buck, Erik Bohemia, Hillary Grierson
Place of PublicationDenmark
PublisherThe Design Society
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-912254-10-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - University College, Herning, Denmark
Duration: 10 Sep 202011 Sep 2020


Conference22nd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education


  • Inclusive design
  • team performance
  • multi-diverse student group
  • monitoring and coaching

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