A MODEL FOR LEARNING TEAMWORK SKILLS
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Tessier, Virginie
Institution: Universite de Montreal, Canada
Section: Innovation and Creativity in Design and Engineering Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.5
The social practice of design is well implanted in the professional field. Working with others from inside or outside the field is recognized as beneficial for a project’s quality and efficiency. Educational establishments have answered this global phenomenon by inciting students to work in teams during their training. On the basis that teamwork is learned from experience, they have until now assumed that no global initiatives are needed to support learning of teamwork skills. Still, professional organizations are complaining that novices entering the field are not ready to collaborate – putting light on a conflicting situation that needs improvement. Investigation of design curriculum structure translates an acknowledgement of teamwork’s relevance, but few integrated initiatives to favor learning and practice. Teachers integrate team projects on the basis of their own judgment, leading to isolated initiative, lacking constructive alignment. Constructive alignment sees an educational program as a system, seeking for connections and interactions between its elements in order to favor deep learning (Biggs, 1996). Concerned about the integration of teamwork in design programs, this research investigates how these skills and experiences are lived and learned by the students in order to propose empirically based recommendations. To investigate this research problem, 22 bachelor’s degree students with ranging profiles and training stages integrated the data collection process of this research. All students were followed during their team project (five to seven weeks). They were asked to reflect on their daily activities by producing weekly entries describing their project’s development, challenges and decision-making. The final activity of the data collection planned an interview with each participant to conclude the research and discuss their project experience. All collected data was coded. Codes were organized systematically by order of occurrence and thematically to generate meaning. The classification of codes led to the identification of five main categories describing the learning experience of teamwork skills: (1) personal, (2) project, (3) organizational, (4) learning, and (5) social. Each of these categories is associated to specific or transversal skills and described by factors. This information is classified in stages of complexity in our model of zones of proximal development for teamwork skills. The zone of proximal development (ZPD) is a concept borrowed from developmental psychologist Vygotsky. The ZPD distinguishes stages of development between what an individual can do on his own from what he or she can do with the help of someone else – triggering a gain in upcoming development stages. It also translates a future-oriented and socially guided learning context, both promising for design expertise. Ultimately, the model can be used for constructive alignment between the different stages of a design program. It identifies which skills should be integrated at each stage of a bachelor's program and the relations between each of its stage, zone, skill and factor. The proposed model integrates a first stage of adaptation to basic disciplinary tools and skills; a second stage of development of skills and efficiency; and a third stage of refinement and integration of disciplinary or interdisciplinary community.