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Title: Approaches to Evidencing Intra-Team Equity in Student Collaborative Design Decision-Making Interactions
Team- and project-based pedagogies are increasingly normative in engineering education and beyond. Student teamwork holds the promise of developing collaborative skills deemed essential for new engineers by professional accreditation bodies such as ABET. The emphasis on these models, furthermore, reflects developments in pedagogical theory, stressing the importance of experiential learning and the social construction of knowledge, repositioning the instructor as a facilitator and guide. Teamwork in an educational context differs from that in professional contexts in that learning outcomes for all team members – both in terms of technical knowledge and team-working skills – are a primary goal of the activity, even while more tangible task-related outcomes might be the main concern of the students themselves. However, team-based learning also holds the potential for team members to have negative experiences, of which instructors may have little or no awareness, especially in real-time. Teams may achieve team-level outcomes required for successful completion, in spite of uneven levels of participation and contribution. Reduced participation on the part of an individual team member may have many causes, pro-active or reactive: it may be a deliberate refusal to engage, a lack of self-confidence, or a response to hostility from other members, among other possibilities. Inequitable team interactions will lead to uneven uptake of desired learning outcomes. Fostering equity in interactions and identifying inequitable practices among team members is therefore an important part of implementing team-based pedagogies, and an essential first step in identifying and challenging systematic patterns of inequity with regard to members of historically marginalized groups. This paper will therefore explore ways in which equity in group decision-making may be conceptualized and observed, laying the foundations for identifying and addressing inequities in the student experience. It will begin by considering different potential manifestations of interactional equity, surveying notions derived from prior education research in the fields of health, mathematics, engineering, and the natural sciences. These notions include: equity of participation on the basis of quantified vocal contributions (in terms of words, utterances, or clausal units); distribution and evolution of interactional roles; equity of idea endorsement and uptake; distribution of inchargeness and influence; equity of access to positional identities and discourse practices; and team member citizenship. In the paper’s empirical component, we trial measures of equity taken or developed from this literature on a small dataset of transcripts showing verbal interactions between undergraduate student team members in a first-year engineering design course. Some measures will be qualitative and others quantitative, depending on the particular form and manifestation of equity they are designed to examine. Measures include manual coding of speech acts and interactional ‘bids’, statistical measures of utterance frequency and length, and computational approaches to modeling interactional features such as social impact and receptivity. Results are compared with the students’ own reflections on the interactions, taken immediately afterward. Recommendations are made for the application of the measures, both from research and practice perspectives. Keywords: Teamwork, Equity, Interaction, Design  more » « less
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American Society for Engineering Education
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National Science Foundation
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