June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
26.1037.1 - 26.1037.11
Investigating Middle School Students’ Perceptions of Communication Challenges in Collaborative EngineeringThe purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate how middle-school students’respond to communication challenges during a set of design-reflect-design processes associatedwith collaborative engineering design. Four questions guided analysis: RQ1: What do learners’ written reflections reveal about their perceptions of communication patterns during collaborative engineering design projects? RQ2: How do students’ perceptions shift between Project #1 and Project #2? RQ3: To what extent do learners’ perceptions of the quality of their individual-level interactions change across the two projects?The study took place in three eighth-grade science classes in one Title I urban school in thesouthwestern U.S. Classroom procedures occurred in 50-minute periods over three consecutivedays in a design-reflect-design process (i.e., Project #1, reflection on communication patterns,Project #2). Students were assigned to one of two roles: design-team member in three-to-fourmember teams, or student-observer. Data sources include video/audio recordings, field notes,design-team members’ responses to open-ended reflection questions and a seven-point Likert-item scale (HICES) (Day1=86, Day3=78). Analysis of open-ended questions was interpretive,using constant comparative methods, open and axial coding, and iterative cycles of independentmemoing/coding and team negotiation of codes and themes. A t-test was conducted to compareHICES scores for project #1 and #2.In regards to RQ1, several trends emerged from analysis of learners’ perceptions of how theirteam negotiated roles/responsibilities. One set of responses (N=64) focused on the context ofinteraction (roles assigned/jobs emerged), while another (N=49) focused on process(nature/quality of design-team interactions). Learners also offered a range in perceptions of howtheir team evaluated progress. Some responders (N=71) reported evaluating the tangible designstructure itself, either on an ongoing basis or at the end of the project, while others (N=65) keyedinto emotional-relational qualities of interactional evaluations. Analysis identified four wayslearners’ communicated to understand the task: reading (N=57), questioning (N=48), listening(N=29), and observing other teams (N=6). Learners’ perceptions of how their team generatednew ideas either focused on why (hear everyone’s voice/create best product) or how (leader-driven/team-identified best alternative/combined ideas) - and sometimes added perceptions ofwhen or the manner in which - brainstorming occurred.In regards to RQ2, many learners increased in sophistication of understanding engineeringdesign processes, indicated by distinctions in task activities and interactional patterns. Learnersalso increased their sense of responsibility and agency by reportedly taking on new roles, andmoved from conceiving their team members as a collection of individuals to conceiving theirteam as a collective unit.In regards to RQ3, responses to the HICES scale of learners’ self-perceived quality of their owninteractions with teammates were fairly high (Project #1: M=4.99, sd=1.14; Project #2: M=5.00,sd=1.09, 7-point scale). No significant difference was found between challenges.Thus, learners grew in their metacognitive awareness of communication patterns across thedesign-reflect-design procedures, but not of their individual-level interactions. Future analysiswill compare students’ perceptions with student-observers’ and researcher/teacher’s perceptions,and project outcomes.
Jordan , M. E., & Delarosa, M. (2015, June), Investigating Middle School Students’ Perceptions of Communication Challenges in Collaborative Engineering Design Learning (Fundamentals) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24374
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