CONTEXT: There is a growing interest in engineering education that the curriculum should include collaborative design projects. Problem-based and project-based learning context of this study is a design project in the fifth semester of the problem-based Architecture and Design programme at Aalborg University. The students had the task to design a real office building in collaborative groups of 5–6 students. PURPOSE: Collaboration and collaborative learning imply a shared activity, a shared purpose, and a mutual interdependence to achieve the intended learning outcomes. In earlier studies we have highlighted the cognitive importance of tools and the use of a wealth of bodily and material resources in students’ collaborative interactional work in the design project. In this study, we focus on students’ collaborative group practices in the design project. The fine-grained details of collaborative work in engineering students design projects are currently under-researched.
METHODOLOGY: The preparation for an upcoming status seminar was video recorded in situ. Video ethnography, conversation analysis and embodied interaction analysis were used to explore what interactional work the student teams did and what kind of resources they used to collaborate and complete the design task. Complete six hours sessions of five groups were recorded using multiple video cameras (2 – 5 cameras per group).
OUTCOMES: The fine-grained patterns of social interaction within groups were found to be complex and dynamic. In the video recordings it was observed that students often changed constellations and break into subgroups of one, two or three students to do some work and to congregate later as a whole group. Thus, we found that the patterns of collaboration in groups practical day-to-day work were not static but displayed a myriad of different patterns.
CONCLUSION: Our results challenge a naïve individual-collaborative-binary and point to the need to investigate group practices and individual and collaborative learning in design project groups and other collaborative learning environments in more detail.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCDIO 2023 19th International CDIO Conference
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Group practices in a collaborative design project – A video-ethnographic study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this