Examining self-managed problem-based learning interactions in engineering education

Mcquade, R. , Ventura-Medina, E., Wiggins, S. and Anderson, T. (2020) Examining self-managed problem-based learning interactions in engineering education. European Journal of Engineering Education, 45(2), pp. 232-248. (doi: 10.1080/03043797.2019.1649366)

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Abstract

With the increasing complexity of the engineering role, today’s graduates must be capable of confronting both technical and societal problems; underpinned by effective teamwork at their core. Problem-based learning has been implemented in engineering to better prepare students for modern industry. However, limited research has examined the complex social processes involved in PBL. The present study, therefore, reports on how students working in tutorless PBL groups – owing to teaching limitations – must effectively self-manage their team efforts if they are to succeed. This PBL arrangement involved a ‘floating facilitator’ but the analysis focuses exclusively on the students’ tutorless interactions. The data collected is from 22 chemical engineering undergraduates in four groups, and consists of naturalistic video-recordings of 32 PBL meetings (35 h). This corpus was examined empirically using conversation analysis to elucidate students’ recurrent communicational practices. The microanalyses showed how students continuously established PBL as the collective responsibility of the group. Furthermore, students maintained ‘average’, equal social identities, and used humour/self-deprecation in constructing an informal learning environment. In the absence of the tutor who would normally maintain cohesion, these strategies offer a means through which students adapt to the unfamiliarity of the tutorless setting, where no member is positioned as the substitute tutor.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mcquade, Mr Robert
Authors: Mcquade, R., Ventura-Medina, E., Wiggins, S., and Anderson, T.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:European Journal of Engineering Education
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0304-3797
ISSN (Online):1469-5898
Published Online:30 July 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor and Francis Group
First Published:First published in European Journal of Engineering Education 45(2):232-248
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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