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From Serious Leisure to Knowing Organizations: Information and Knowledge Management Challenges in Project-Based Learning Student Engineering Teams

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Conference

2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade

Tagged Division

Student

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

23.625.1 - 23.625.13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/19639

Download Count

28

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Paper Authors

biography

Michael L.W. Jones PhD Candidate Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

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Michael Jones is a program coordinator of Communication, Culture and Information Technology at Sheridan College, and a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto.

Michael's research interests include applied project-based learning, organizational learning and knowledge management, and the sociological study of applied science and engineering.

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Abstract

From  Serious  Leisure  to  Knowing  Organizations:     Organizational  and  Knowledge  Management  Challenges     in  Student  Engineering  Project  Teams     Michael  L.W.  Jones   PhD  Candidate,  Faculty  of  Information   University  of  Toronto   mlw.jones@mail.utoronto.ca     Critiques  of  contemporary  engineering  education  have  highlighted  issues  of  limited  applied  and  “soft”  skills  development  (Fairweather,  2008),  arguably  leading  to  retention  issues  in  STEM  education  (Seymour  &  Hewitt,  1997)  and  a  mismatch  with  industry  demands  for  graduates  (ABET,  2011).     Facing  similar  challenges,  medical  and  nursing  schools  have  leveraged  problem-­‐based  learning  (PBL)  strategies  where  students  engage  medical  cases  collaboratively  and  independently,  with  faculty  serving  as  facilitators  of  a  student-­‐led  learning  process  (Savery,  2006).    Engineering  educators  have  adapted  similar  PBL  approaches  such  as  capstone  design  projects  and  engineering  student  design  teams  to  complement  the  more  traditional,  basic-­‐science  based  engineering  curriculum.         Such  learning  opportunities  are  qualitatively  different  than  traditional  PBL  efforts  in  one  demonstrable  way.    Engineering  project  teams  tend  to  engage  more  complex  design  challenges  over  a  longer  period  of  time  compared  to  the  more  singularly  focused,  ad-­‐hoc  PBL  groups  used  in  class-­‐based  investigations.      This  qualitative  difference  creates  two  organizational  challenges  unique  to  engineering  project-­‐based  learning  teams.     Student  engineering  design  teams  must  sustain  team  motivation  throughout  a  long  and  often  arduous  process  of  design  and  development.    Team  leaders  in  particular  adopt  responsibilities  and  commitments  often  equal  to  or  more  than  a  traditional  full-­‐time  job.    Much  of  this  effort  is  not  explicitly  rewarded  –  indeed,  it  often  cuts  into  time  and  effort  normally  spent  on  other  curricular  and  social  activities.    For  many  participants,  project  teams  are  serious  leisure  opportunities  (Stebbins,  2007),  shaped  by  intense  intrinsic  motivation,  considerable  personal  sacrifice,  strong  self-­‐identification  with  the  task  at  hand,  and  considerable  investment  of  energy  and  resources.       The  extended  time  period  and  complexity  of  investigation  in  engineering  student  design  teams  also  requires  that  engineering  teams  develop  into  effective  and  sustained  knowledge-­‐based  organizations.    In  doing  so,  student  members  and  leaders  engage  organizational  knowledge  management  challenges  rarely  formally  taught  in  the  traditional  engineering  curriculum,  including  effective  sense-­‐making,  knowledge  creation  and  dissemination  processes,  and  effective  and  timely  decision  making  (Choo,  2006).     This  paper  describes  a  larger  effort  to  build  a  model  of  these  organizational  and  knowledge  management  challenges.    This  effort  leverages  cultural-­‐historical  activity  theory  (CHAT),  a  complex,  dialectical  analytical  model  of  situated  collaborative  action  that  highlights  the  contradictions  student  members  and  leaders  face  in  engaging  a  team’s  end  objectives  and  goals.         While  these  contradictions  and  challenges  are  arguably  applicable  to  all  engineering  student  project  teams,  specific  attention  will  be  paid  to  Formula  SAE  (FSAE),  a  design  competition  series  with  a  long  history  and  worldwide  reach,  now  including  nearly  500  collegiate  teams  in  over  20  countries  worldwide.    Preliminary  research  from  the  author’s  participatory  observation  with  one  team  is  discussed  in  this  paper,  and  is  presented  as  a  foundation  for  a  sustained  discussion  of  challenges  faced  within  the  larger  FSAE  community.        References    ABET.  (2011).  ABET  -­‐  Criteria  for  Accrediting  Applied  Science  Programs,  2012  -­‐   2013.  abet.org.  Retrieved  December  2011,  from  http://abet.org/asac-­‐criteria-­‐ 2012-­‐2013/  Choo,  C.  W.  (2006).  The  Knowing  Organization:  How  Organizations  Use  Information   to  Construct  Meaning,  Create  Knowledge  and  Make  Decisions.  New  York:  Oxford   University  Press.  Fairweather,  J.  (2008).  Linking  Evidence  and  Promising  Practices  in  Science,   Technology,  Engineering  and  Mathematics  Undergraduate  Education  (pp.  1–31).   National  Academies  of  Science.  Savery,  J.  R.  (2006).  Overview  of  Problem-­‐based  Learning:  Definitions  and   Distinctions.  Interdisciplinary  Journal  of  Problem-­‐Based  Learning,  1(1),  9–20.  Seymour,  E.,  &  Hewitt,  N.  M.  (1997).  Talking  about  leaving:  Why  undergraduates   leave  the  sciences.  Boulder,  CO:  Westview  Press.  Stebbins,  R.  A.  (2007).  Serious  leisure:  A  perspective  for  our  time.  Transaction  Pub.    

Jones, M. L. (2013, June), From Serious Leisure to Knowing Organizations: Information and Knowledge Management Challenges in Project-Based Learning Student Engineering Teams Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19639

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