From Initiators to Free-Riders: Exploring the Spectrum of Female Engineering Students’ Functional Roles in ProjectBased Learning using Phenomenography

Juebei Chen, Jiabin Zhu, Tianyi Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Collaborative learning has been proposed as a strategy to improve engineering female students’ learning by providing the opportunities to work in a supportive group. However, female students still face multiple challenges especially in a maledominant group. To gain a deeper understanding on female students’ team experiences and thereby improve their performance, this research investigates the spectrum of team roles among female engineering students in project-based learning. Using a phenomenographic approach, which features investigating the variation of experiences, we mapped twenty-one female engineering students’ diverse roles in three dimensions-task, social, and individual roles in a qualitative manner. A variety of roles were identified, ranging from initiators, task assistants, to task outsiders (task), from coordinators, conflict mediators, communication outsiders (social), and from challenger-lovers, recognition-seekers, to free-riders (individual). Moreover, factors such as gender ratio and group dynamics, were found to be associated with their role-taking. The exploration of female students’ functional roles provided an overall understanding about the diversity in female students’ functional roles and associated factors influencing their role-taking. Suggestions as related to group arrangement, task division and other aspects in PBL were discussed for future course design.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Volume38
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)917-933
Number of pages17
ISSN0949-149X
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Female engineering students
  • functional roles
  • Project-based Learning

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