Changing modes of production and emerging technologies and economies require capable employees equipped with a set of diverse competences. These competences are no longer limited to specific disciplines but include broader emphasis on generic competences applicable across various contexts involving a variety of professions. Consequently, collaboration and teamwork are also two central generic competences in engineering practice and pivotal elements in engineering education. However, collaboration and teamwork competences are often only superficially addressed and moreover, not based on students’ experience. This study address engineering students’ experience of the constituent parts of teamwork competences in a systematic integrated problem-based learning (PBL) environment and how these can contribute to curriculum development. Conducting a thematic analysis of students’ written competence profiles (n = 130) results in the construction of five themes concerning students’ teamwork competences: finding complementary competences, establishing teamwork culture, preventing and managing conflicts, awareness of self and others and shared situational awareness. Each theme is illustrated by several components emphasised by students and exemplified by excerpts useful for curriculum development or learning activities supporting development of specific competences. The thematic analysis furthermore exemplifies how generic competences are perceived as enablers of disciplinary problem-solving in teams, and how systematically integrated PBL supports the development of a wide variety of teamwork competences. The article concludes that students are acutely aware of team members and their position in a team while maintaining flexibility
enabling potential responses to anticipated or unknown challenges found in the internal or external environment of the team.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)627-642
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Competence development
  • Engineering Education
  • Generic competences
  • PBL
  • PjBL
  • students' experience of teamwork


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