Asee peer logo

Evaluation Of Cooperative Competition As An Educational Strategy In Project Oriented Technology Education

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Experience with Experiential Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.580.1 - 9.580.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Mark Patterson

author page

C. Richard Helps

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2249

Evaluation of Cooperative Competition as an Educational Strategy in Project-Oriented Technology Education

Richard Helps, Mark Patterson Brigham Young University/University of Dayton


Competitions can create an effective learning environment by engaging students in active and cooperative learning. And while competition and cooperation are usually considered by educational researchers to be opposites, they can be used in conjunction to support learning. This study discusses the results of teaching upper-division and graduate-level technology courses that include a competitive project as a major part of the class. In this setting, students design and construct electronics projects, with ample opportunity for creative expression. The project goal is clearly defined, but the solution is not strongly constrained, and students work in teams to find it. In turn, the cooperation among team members and the competition between teams, and often, the cooperation between teams as well, all serve to motivate the students and enhance various aspects of learning. This approach was used with two different groups of technology students at two universities. Student response was evaluated using qualitative evaluation techniques and analyzed for trends and student impact. We also report on how to design a competition-based course to meet educational needs.


Higher-education institutions seek to create effective learning environments. At the college or university, level, students are commonly educated through cooperative or active learning. More than thirty years of qualitative and quantitative research shows that active learning is one of the most powerful methods for influencing higher order thinking skills1. While competition can be viewed as one of the methods for achieving active learning, many proponents of the active learning theory argue that it does not fit with active learning. Likewise, some proponents of cooperative learning, such as Johnson and Johnson2, disapprove of competition, while others, such as Slavin3, support inter-team competition. Because competition is often viewed as being the opposite of cooperation, educators tend to refrain from using competition as an active learning method, with the exception of many engineering technology educators, who use competition in combination with other active learning methods. Research in primary education supports cooperative learning over competition learning, as competition learning is almost always assumed to be individualized competition. Competition learning in higher education, on the other hand, is not necessarily individualized, but rather can be applied as cooperative competition4, in which the students compete in groups. The main focus of this study is to determine whether competition, combined with an element of cooperation, can be an effective active learning method in engineering technology education. The following questions were considered:

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Patterson, M., & Helps, C. R. (2004, June), Evaluation Of Cooperative Competition As An Educational Strategy In Project Oriented Technology Education Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015