Asee peer logo

Understanding Youth Collaboration: How Learners Experience the Design Process in a Collaborative Context (Fundamentals)

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Fundamental: K-12 Students and Engineering Design Practices (Part 2)

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1629.1 - 26.1629.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Michelle E Jordan Arizona State University

visit author page

Michelle Jordan earned her PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing
her studies on learning, cognition, and motivation with an emphasis on classroom discourse. She joined
the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University in 2010. Her interdisciplinary research
draws on traditions in qualitative inquiry, sociolinguistics, complexity theories, and the learning sciences.
Partnering with teachers and researchers across multiple contexts, Michelle’s research agenda explores
the relationships among small-group interactions, the experiences they facilitate, and their potential to
extend human learning in diverse contexts including K-12 engineering design teams.

visit author page


Tonatiuh Munguia-Villanueva Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco

visit author page

Born in Mexico City, Tonatiuh Munguía Villanueva was raised in Tabasco, México. He is currently pursuing a bachelors degree in Biology at the “Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco” (final thesis pending). On 2012 he co-founded a science communication club called "Jóvenes por la Ciencia" (Youth for science), which allowed him to take part in local, national and international events ranging from conducting demonstrations of scientific phenomena for K-12 students to participating on the XIII International Symposium of the “Instituto Politécnico Nacional”. On 2014 he was honored to participate on the “Latin American Summer Research Program” at the University of Arizona under the mentoring of Michelle E. Jordan, PhD, exploring the experiences of learners engaged in collaborative engineering design projects.

visit author page

Download Paper |


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

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: © 2015 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