skip to main content

Title: Theoretical and Empirical Modeling of Identity and Sentiments in Collaborative Groups
Theoretical and Empirical Modeling of Identity and Sentiments in Collaborative Groups (THEMIS.COG) was an interdisciplinary research collaboration of computer scientists and social scientists from the University of Waterloo (Canada), Potsdam University of Applied Sciences (Germany), and Dartmouth College (USA). This white paper summarizes the results of our research at the end of the grant term. Funded by the Trans-Atlantic Platform’s Digging Into Data initiative, the project aimed at theoretical and empirical modeling of identity and sentiments in collaborative groups. Understanding the social forces behind self-organized collaboration is important because technological and social innovations are increasingly generated through informal, distributed processes of collaboration, rather than in formal organizational hierarchies or through market forces. Our work used a data-driven approach to explore the social psychological mechanisms that motivate such collaborations and determine their success or failure. We focused on the example of GitHub, the world’s current largest digital platform for open, collaborative software development. In contrast to most, purely inductive contemporary approaches leveraging computational techniques for social science, THEMIS.COG followed a deductive, theory-driven approach. We capitalized on affect control theory, a mathematically formalized theory of symbolic interaction originated by sociologist David R. Heise and further advanced in previous work by some of more » the THEMIS.COG collaborators, among others. Affect control theory states that people control their social behaviours by intuitively attempting to verify culturally shared feelings about identities, social roles, and behaviour settings. From this principle, implemented in computational simulation models, precise predictions about group dynamics can be derived. It was the goal of THEMIS.COG to adapt and apply this approach to study the GitHub collaboration ecosystem through a symbolic interactionist lens. The project contributed substantially to the novel endeavor of theory development in social science based on large amounts of naturally occurring digital data. « less
Authors:
Award ID(s):
1723608
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10296729
Journal Name:
SocArXiv
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Barriers to broadening participation in engineering to rural and Appalachian youth include misalignment with family and community values, lack of opportunities, and community misperceptions of engineering. While single interventions are unlikely to stimulate change in these areas, more sustainable interventions that are co-designed with local relevance appear promising. Through our NSF ITEST project, we test the waters of this intervention model through partnership with school systems and engineering industry to implement a series of engineering-themed, standards-aligned lessons for the middle school science classroom. Our mixed methods approach includes collection of interview and survey data from administrators, teachers, engineers, and universitymore »affiliates as well as observation and student data from the classroom. We have utilized theory from learning science and organizational collaboration to structure and inform our analysis and explore the impact of our project. The research is guided by the following questions: RQ 1: How do participants conceptualize engineering careers? How and why do such perceptions shift throughout the project? RQ 2: What elements of the targeted intervention affect student motivation towards engineering careers specifically with regard to developing competencies and ability beliefs regarding engineering? RQ 3: How can strategic collaboration between K12 and industry promote a shift in teacher’s conceptions of engineers and increased self-efficacy in building and delivering engineering curriculum? RQ 4: How do stakeholder characteristics, perceptions, and dynamics affect the likelihood of sustainability in strategic collaborations between K12 and industry stakeholders? How do prevailing institutional and collaborative conditions mediate sustainability? In year one, we involved nine 6th grade teachers, three engineering companies, and over 500 students. In year two, we expanded to include 7th grade teachers in our partner schools and the new students moving up to 6th grade. Lessons aligned with students' everyday experiences and connected to industry. For example, students created bouncy balls and tested their effectiveness on materials produced from partner manufacturing facilities. From preliminary analysis of data collected in the first two years of the project (e.g, the Draw an Engineer Test and teacher interviews), we have begun to see evidence of positive student and teacher impact. Additionally, our application of collaborative theory to the investigation of stakeholder perceptions of the project has revealed implications for partnering with school systems and engineering industry. For example, key individuals at each organization may serve as important conduits for program communication and collaborative work.« less
  2. There is little research or understanding of curricular differences between two- and four-year programs, career development of engineering technology (ET) students, and professional preparation for ET early career professionals [1]. Yet, ET credentials (including certificates, two-, and four-year degrees) represent over half of all engineering credentials awarded in the U.S [2]. ET professionals are important hands-on members of engineering teams who have specialized knowledge of components and engineering systems. This research study focuses on how career orientations affect engineering formation of ET students educated at two-year colleges. The theoretical framework guiding this study is Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT). SCCTmore »is a theory which situates attitudes, interests, and experiences and links self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, and personal goals to educational and career decisions and outcomes [3]. Student knowledge of attitudes toward and motivation to pursue STEM and engineering education can impact academic performance and indicate future career interest and participation in the STEM workforce [4]. This knowledge may be measured through career orientations or career anchors. A career anchor is a combination of self-concept characteristics which includes talents, skills, abilities, motives, needs, attitudes, and values. Career anchors can develop over time and aid in shaping personal and career identity [6]. The purpose of this quantitative research study is to identify dimensions of career orientations and anchors at various educational stages to map to ET career pathways. The research question this study aims to answer is: For students educated in two-year college ET programs, how do the different dimensions of career orientations, at various phases of professional preparation, impact experiences and development of professional profiles and pathways? The participants (n=308) in this study represent three different groups: (1) students in engineering technology related programs from a medium rural-serving technical college (n=136), (2) students in engineering technology related programs from a large urban-serving technical college (n=52), and (3) engineering students at a medium Research 1 university who have transferred from a two-year college (n=120). All participants completed Schein’s Career Anchor Inventory [5]. This instrument contains 40 six-point Likert-scale items with eight subscales which correlate to the eight different career anchors. Additional demographic questions were also included. The data analysis includes graphical displays for data visualization and exploration, descriptive statistics for summarizing trends in the sample data, and then inferential statistics for determining statistical significance. This analysis examines career anchor results across groups by institution, major, demographics, types of educational experiences, types of work experiences, and career influences. This cross-group analysis aids in the development of profiles of values, talents, abilities, and motives to support customized career development tailored specifically for ET students. These findings contribute research to a gap in ET and two-year college engineering education research. Practical implications include use of findings to create career pathways mapped to career anchors, integration of career development tools into two-year college curricula and programs, greater support for career counselors, and creation of alternate and more diverse pathways into engineering. Words: 489 References [1] National Academy of Engineering. (2016). Engineering technology education in the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. [2] The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, (IPEDS). (2014). Data on engineering technology degrees. [3] Lent, R.W., & Brown, S.B. (1996). Social cognitive approach to career development: An overivew. Career Development Quarterly, 44, 310-321. [4] Unfried, A., Faber, M., Stanhope, D.S., Wiebe, E. (2015). The development and validation of a measure of student attitudes toward science, technology, engineeirng, and math (S-STEM). Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33(7), 622-639. [5] Schein, E. (1996). Career anchors revisited: Implications for career development in the 21st century. Academy of Management Executive, 10(4), 80-88. [6] Schein, E.H., & Van Maanen, J. (2013). Career Anchors, 4th ed. San Francisco: Wiley.« less
  3. Purpose In response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, many universities have transitioned to online instruction. With learning promising to be online, at least in part, for the near future, instructors may be thinking of providing online collaborative learning opportunities to their students who are increasingly isolated from their peers because of social distancing guidelines. This paper aims to provide design recommendations for online collaborative project-based learning exercises based on this research in a software engineering course at the university level. Design/methodology/approach Through joint work between learning scientists, course instructors and software engineering practitioners, instructional design best practices of alignment betweenmore »the context of the learners, the learning objectives, the task and the assessment are actualized in the design of collaborative programming projects for supporting learning. The design, first segments a short real-time collaborative exercise into tasks, each with a problem-solving phase where students participate in collaborative programming, and a reflection phase for reflecting on what they learned in the task. Within these phases, a role-assignment paradigm scaffolds collaboration by assigning groups of four students to four complementary roles that rotate after each task. Findings By aligning each task with granular learning objectives, significant pre- to post-test learning from the exercise as well as each task is observed. Originality/value The roles used in the paradigm discourage divide-and-conquer tendencies often associated with collaborative projects. By requiring students to discuss conflicting ideas to arrive at a consensus implementation, their ideas are made explicit, thus providing opportunities for clarifying misconceptions through discussion and learning from the collaboration.« less
  4. We review Affect Control Theory (ACT), a mathematically formalized theory that integrates sociological insights about the symbolic construction of the social order with psychological knowledge about cognitive-affective mechanisms, as a basis for equipping computational agents in social simulations with a sense of sociality. After explaining theoretical foundations and describing previous applications of ACT at the dyadic and group level, we describe a case study from an ongoing research project aimed at understanding self-organized online collaboration in software development with ACT-based social simulations.
  5. The STEM Excellence through Engagement in Collaboration, Research, and Scholarship (SEECRS) project at Whatcom Community College is in year four of a five-year NSF S-STEM funded program aiming to support academically talented students with demonstrated financial need in biology, chemistry, geology, computer science, engineering, and physics. This program offered financial, academic, and professional support to three two-year cohorts of students and is in the final year of the third and final cohort of the currently funded grant cycle. The SEECRS project aimed to utilize a STEM-specific guided pathways approach to strengthen recruitment, retention, and matriculation of STEM students at themore »community college level. Over the course of the program 39 individuals received scholarship support. The program supported scholarship recipients through participation in the SEECRS Scholars Academy, a multi-pronged approach to student support combining elements of community building, faculty mentorship, targeted advising activities, authentic science practice, and social activities. Key elements of the program are: a required two-credit course that emphasized STEM identity development, course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) in Biology, Chemistry and Engineering courses, funded summer research opportunities, and paring of each scholar with a faculty mentor. This paper presents data from the first four years of the program including participant outcomes and feedback on their experiences. Results from project evaluation activities such as pre and post surveys, focus groups, exit interviews, and faculty surveys are also presented and analyzed to compare how gains reported by program participants regarding such attributes as their STEM identities and sense of belonging compare to responses from a control group of students who did not participate in the program. Preliminary identification of some program best practices will also be presented.« less