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Problems in cooperative learning : a qualitative overview at mechanical engineering education at the University of applied science Utrecht

Bosveld, S. (2015) Problems in cooperative learning : a qualitative overview at mechanical engineering education at the University of applied science Utrecht.

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Abstract:This document provides an overview of the research focused on problems in cooperative learning at the mechanical engineering education at the University of Applied Science Utrecht in. At mechanical engineering education various forms of cooperative learning are used, this study researches the problems which occur during cooperative learning and provides suggestions for improvement. In this thesis existing literature on the topic is discussed, the research design is elaborated and the results are given and discussed. It is a qualitative descriptive study which provides an overview of the entire width of the problem. In other words, the research question is quite broad: What are the problems, related to cooperative learning, experienced by students and teachers in mechanical engineering education of the University of Applied Science Utrecht? The themes; (1) Effective groups, (2) Assessment and (3) Supervision, are selected from the literature and form the basis for the sub questions. Data is collected from two groups, teachers and students of mechanical engineering education. The teachers are individually interviewed using a semi-structured interview in which the previously mentioned themes are discussed. Students received an online survey with open questions on their experiences with cooperative learning. These instruments are chosen to collect rich information based on real experiences. Teachers are selected through convenience sampling and students using stratified purposeful sampling. The interviews are transcribed and data is clustered and made into analysing networks. One overall network is created and from that four sub-networks, one on each of the three themes and a network which shows the connections between the themes. From the networks the overview of problems on cooperative learning are formulated. These results are connected to the literature, from here conclusions are drawn and recommendations are made. The results on effective groups are, As follows: A group can be effective when the group is well composed and have an open line of communication. Group members divide the labour equally and have a clear vision. A freeloading student has a great effect on the effectiveness of a group and is perceived as a problem by students and teacher. The main results on the theme supervision is that teachers do not always have the same approach. Teacher differ in the topic and the style of supervision. Some teachers provide extensive help on academic content and other teachers ask questions about the process. These two styles occur in the same project and this gives the students a feeling of unfairness. The discussion on group dynamics is not a prominent part of the supervision. On the theme assessment there is discussion on what should be assessed, end result, design process or teamwork. The goals of group cooperation at this moment are not always clear. The second issue is on group or individual assessment. The main opinion is that group cooperation should be assessed with a group grade unless there is a good reason not to. Peer assessment can in some situations be useful to make individual differentiation on grades. Recommendations for improvements are that student groups need to be composed carefully. Teachers need to know how to deal with struggling groups. There should be debated on the assessment goals of cooperative learning and all teachers and students involved should know the goals.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
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