Effecting teamwork outcomes in online courses

Wandel, Andrew P. and Jolly, Hannah (2014) Effecting teamwork outcomes in online courses. In: 25th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2014): Engineering the Knowledge Economy: Collaboration, Engagement and Employability, 8-10 Dec 2014, Wellington, New Zealand.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Teamwork is a critical graduate attribute for engineers, so universities formally incorporate such activities into individual courses in their degree programmes. Because conditions for effective teamwork relate to interpersonal variables such as positive interdependence and promotive interaction (Felder, Woods, Stice, & Rugarcia, 2000), the affordances of team-based learning activities can be diminished in online environments, where the immediacy of interaction can be lost (Fisher, Phelps, & Ellis, 2000). What is unknown is what occurs in the operation of teams that can make them work well or cause them to fail.
PURPOSE: The objective was to discover what practices occurred in teams that had direct interaction and how they differed to teams which relied on the internet for contact.
DESIGN/METHOD: A critical realist approach was used to examine data from student reflections on how their groups functioned during a semester of study in a project-based engineering course. The reflections were analysed using the CMO framework of Pawson and Tilley (1997), in which contexts (C) and mechanisms (M) interact to produce outcomes (O). Contexts are the 'spatial and institutional locations of social situations, together with the norms, values, and interrelationships found within them' (Pawson & Tilley, 1997). Mechanisms 'refer to the choices and capacities which lead to regular patterns of social behaviour' (Pawson & Tilley, 1997).
RESULTS: Positive outcomes were only produced when a positive mechanism was implemented. A positive mechanism could be implemented in response to a positive or negative context, but negative mechanisms were only implemented in response to a negative context. Sometimes, removing a negative context can result in another negative context being created.
CONCLUSIONS: The most effective action to overcome a negative context could be to support the introduction of a positive mechanism, since removing the negative context can have unforeseen side-effects of introducing another negative context which requires managing. The effect of distance between team members was not found to be an over-riding context that requires removal, since a number of other negative contexts can be encountered irrespective of how close team members are to each other.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © Wandel and Jolly 2014. These proceedings are copyright. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2015 23:43
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2017 04:53
Uncontrolled Keywords: group work; student interactions; student outcomes; higher education research
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130306 Educational Technology and Computing
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130309 Learning Sciences
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970109 Expanding Knowledge in Engineering
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/26693

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