June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
26.1629.1 - 26.1629.9
Understanding Youth Collaboration: How learners experience the design process in a collaborative contextThe Next Generation Science Standards foregrounds the importance of collaboration inscience and engineering practices by integrating it as fundamental criterion at all levels ofK-12 education. Engineering practices are highly social and communication plays criticalroles in the design process. However, systematic studies of adolescents’ peer interactionduring collaborative design activity are rare and little is yet understood about how learners’perceive of their collaborative interactions.The purpose of this study is to improve understanding of how learners experience thedesign process as they engage in collaborative engineering challenges. To achieve this aim,we investigated how participants in afterschool engineering clubs experience collaborativeaspects of design challenges. Initial research questions that guided this qualitative studyinclude: What do learners report about how they experience collaborative aspects ofengineering design challenges? Which aspects of collaborative design processes are mostsalient to these learners? Which aspects do they experience more negatively or positively?This qualitative descriptive study relied on structured interviews consisting of open endedquestions about collaboration in engineering design challenges. Participants were 48voluntary members of middle-school afterschool clubs (6th-8th) in eight Southwestern U.S.schools (48% female; 73% low-SES; 64% Hispanic, 13% White, 7% African American,7% Asian, 2% Native American). Club meetings occurred once a week for five months,with club members working in teams to complete one of eight engineering challenges.Analysis utilized constant comparative methods to inductively interpret interviewresponses. Iterating through several cycles, both researchers independently read, wroteextensive memos, and identified tentative themes before meeting to share and negotiateinterpretations to inform the emerging model.Three themes emerged through analysis. First, a prominent aspect of how learnersexperienced collaboration was the salience of how they managed ideas. Intervieweescommonly focused on how ideas were created, evaluated, developed, and implemented intheir collaborative design team.Second, some participants perceived of their teams as Collaboratives and others perceivedof their teams as Collections of Individuals. Furthermore, those perceptions related tolearners’ construction of identities and roles within the team. Participants who viewed theirteams as a Collaborative perceived themselves as having a team-centric ownership of ideas.In contrast, students who viewed their team as a Collection of Individuals saw the pluralityof ideas as a conflict between individuals in terms of social-relational power and decision-making efficacy. Even students who presented this perception largely voiced a positivereception to having at least one teammate to serve as a different source of ideas. However,these benefits might not outweigh the social stress of negotiating individual ownership ofideas.Finally, negotiating decision making around diverse ideas was a common topic acrossinterview responses. The inherent tension between benefits and challenges of diverse ideaswas perceived by learners regardless of whether they perceived of their teams as aCollective or a Collection of Individuals, but this tension was resolved differently by eachof these groups.Ultimately, our hope is that this study will inform research and practice related to effectivecollaborative skills needed in engineering design contexts.
Jordan , M. E., & Munguia-Villanueva, T. (2015, June), Understanding Youth Collaboration: How Learners Experience the Design Process in a Collaborative Context (Fundamentals) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24965
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