The role of informal learning on engineering students' teaming process
This study explored the role of informal learning on the teaming process of engineering student teams. The purpose of the study was to explore how engineering students informally learn teaming skills during a team experience; what teaming skills do they learn and what informal ways of learning do they perceive as valuable to learning teaming skills. An ethnographic approach was used to comprehensively understand the meanings of what IMSE305 engineering student teams do (behaviors and interactions), what they say (language), and what they use (artifacts) in terms of informal learning of teaming skills. Formal and informal interviews, video tape observations and document analysis composed the data collection process. Data were gathered from 3 teams of 4 students. The analysis consisted of a process of reducing the data, developing codes, creating visual displays of information, relating categories and developing frameworks. Six procedures (triangulation of data sources and methods, members check, peer review, rich description, and clarification of bias) were used to account for credibility, transferability, dependability or consistency and confirmability of the study.
Seven major patterns identified as “Informal Ways of Learning” were found: building an identity/relationship, gaining cooperation, contributing/performing, maintaining the relationship, managing unexpected situations, dealing with conflict and using the context. These ways of learning produced individual and/or team learning. The set of patterns comprised the informal learning culture of IMSE305 engineering students. A general comparison with engineering education and Western teams' concepts indicated that both maintaining the relationship and performing/contributing may be uniquely important in IMSE engineering students' teams. These two ways of learning tended to create marked conflicting situations.
Findings of this study can contribute to the design of education strategies suitable to the nature of the IMSE engineering students. Researchers seeking to apply the topic to other environments are advised to look for “context similarities” that allow for “transferability” of the findings.
0340: Educational sociology