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An Exploration of Students’ Engineering Identity Development in a PBL Team Setting

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Student Perceptions of Self-efficacy, Success, and Identity

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Juebei Chen Aalborg University

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Juebei Chen is a PhD student in Aalborg University, Denmark. She obtained a Master degree in higher education in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Her current interest focuses on students' learning experience and learning outcomes in PBL context, PBL training for engineering staff, and gender issues in engineering education.

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Anette Kolmos Aalborg University

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Anette Kolmos is Professor in Engineering Education and PBL and Chairholder for UNESCO in Problem Based Learning in Engineering Education, Aalborg University, Denmark. Guest professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Guest Professor at UTM University Technology Malaysia 2011-2013. President of SEFI 2009–2011 (European Society for Engineering Education). Founding Chair of the SEFI-working group on Engineering Education Research. During the last 20 years, Dr. Kolmos has researched the following areas, primarily within Engineering Education: development and evaluation of project based and problem based curriculum, change from traditional to project organized and problem based curriculum, development of transferable skills in PBL and project work, and methods for staff development. She is Associate Editor for the European Journal of Engineering Education and was Associated Editor for Journal of Engineering Education (ASEE). Involved in supervision of 13 PhD projects and published around 200 publications. Member of several organizations and committees within EER, national government bodies, and committees in the EU.

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Xiangyun Du Qatar University

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Engineering identity is believed as a significant indicator for engineering students’ professional persistence and competence development (Dannels, 2000; Johnson & Ulseth, 2016). Engineering identity could be understood as the awareness of the needed qualities of engineers (Dehing, et al., 2013), the sense of belonging in engineering groups (Knight et al., 2013), and self-identification as future engineers (Capobianco, et al., 2012). Recent research has explored components and measurement of engineering identity, as well as diverse perspectives related to engineering identity, such as gender and ethnicity, from the perspective of individuals or individual learning processes (Godwin, 2016; Matusovich, et al., 2011; Hunter et al., 2007). While collaboration is considered as an important component of engineering practices (Kendall, et al, 2019; Patrick et al, 2017), it is also necessary to explore how engineering identity is developed in a collaborative learning and team setting. In particular if we understand identity as built and developed constantly in the processes of negotiating the meaning of experience and interacting with others in social communities (Wenger, 1998). In engineering education, engineering identity is not just an individual concept but also is through interaction with peers, instructors, industry members in engineering communities. Existing studies mainly focused on students’ engineering identity development from the individual perspective (Godwin, 2016; Capobianco et al., 2012; Hazari et al., 2010), although teamwork may be employed as part of the course delivery methods in some studies, the role of teamwork has not been sufficiently evidenced. For better understanding of how students’ engineering identity could be developed through teamwork, problem and project-based learning (PBL) was chosen as learning background since it provided students a simulative situation where students work in teams as real engineers to solve open-ended workplace problems (Edström & Kolmos, 2014). As one of the core teamwork learning methods, PBL was reported having positive influence on students’ engineering identity development (Du, 2006; Johnson & Ulseth, 2016). However, it is still unclear that in which way the teamwork in PBL enables the development of engineering identity. Therefore, this study aims to explore engineering students’ development of engineering identity in a PBL team setting. These findings are expected to help engineering students better develop engineering identity in PBL programmes, and inspire improvement to incorporate effective and meaningful learning experiences into the PBL design.

Chen, J., & Kolmos, A., & Du, X. (2020, June), An Exploration of Students’ Engineering Identity Development in a PBL Team Setting Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34123

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