Teamwork is an important element of engineering education, and is often seen as a way of increasing diversity in engineering. However, the way students engage in teamwork is gendered. Research on facilitation of teamwork by educators in in engineering indicates that they may need assistance to enable inclusive practices. Situated within the context of a research-oriented university in Australia, this project aims to translate into practice research on how educators can support inclusive student teamwork in an undergraduate and postgraduate engineering and computer science context.
Our project aims to enhance gender inclusivity in engineering and computer science classes by focussing on the student experience of teamwork and how this is facilitated by educators. Our first research question was, “What are educators’ practices and students’ experiences with respect to gender inclusion in engineering and computing student teams in an Australian research-intensive university?” Followed by, “How can we support educators to implement new practices for improving gender inclusion, enhancing student education overall?” This paper describes the development of educator resources that aim to answer this question.
The project adopts a combination of ‘studying up’ and ‘studying down’, gathering data from both students and educators to establish a baseline before focussing on the practices of faculty members as the main object of enquiry. We studied four elements of teamwork: team formation, team roles, student experience of teamwork, and evaluation and assessment. Student experience has been collected using an online survey, and understanding deepened through focus group discussions, while semi-structured interviews were used to capture teaching practices and perceptions of gender inclusivity in their teamwork focused classes.
Drawing on extant research and these baseline data, we developed evidence-based learning resources to guide educators in how they can facilitate gender-inclusive teamwork. We then held a face-to-face training workshop for unit coordinators and facilitators of teamwork centred units to share these resources. As the project continues, the impact of the resources will be evaluated by resurveying the student groups.
The baseline data demonstrated a disconnect between students’ experiences of teamwork and student and staff perceptions of gender influence. The workshop development process focussed on the four stages of teamwork, informed by literature and our data. This has resulted in evidence-based resources designed to illuminate the gendered reality of teamwork and assist educators in developing inclusive classrooms, which will be accessible to all faculty. Further research will discover whether we have achieved the intended outcome of improved teaching practices and inclusivity of teaching experiences.
The findings of this research will contribute to the understanding of gendered dynamics within engineering and computing classes and will provide insight into the development of evidence-based resources to support teaching practices relating to inclusive teamwork in the engineering and computer science context.
Engineering, gender, teamwork, engineering education
|Conference||30th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference|
|Period||8/12/19 → 11/12/19|