Effective Teaching of Technical Teamwork to Large Cohorts of Engineering Students in China.
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Teamwork skills have been recognised as one of the key skills required for engineering graduates by industries world-wide, including in China. However, very little work on teamwork teaching has been done in the Chinese context, especially in an academic setting. This context is important as the approach to teamwork is very different in China, but effective teamwork is essential for successful engineering projects. This work researches effective ways to teach technical teamwork skills to large cohorts of engineering students in China. Research is performed in a joint Sino-British bachelor degree programme in China, and the participants are all Chinese engineering students. This work researched the applicability of successful cooperative learning practices from the West to China, by implementing them into a Personal Development Plan module that takes team working as one of its key teaching objectives. It employed quantitative statistical methods to compare different group forming methods, analyse the correlation between team performance and academic performance, and test the validity and reliability of peer rating. The effectiveness of the practice was evaluated based on the qualitative open-ended results, and the cultural appropriateness of the practice was discussed. An MBTI test was done to the students, and it was found higher frequencies of Feeling over Thinking, and Judging over Perceiving. This study also investigated the perspectives of the Chinese engineering students on team working and the way they prefer to learn. For the first time it attempted to put some tests in the group project of a technical module. This work has given a new understanding on how Chinese engineering students react in a cooperative learning practice and their perspectives on teamwork learning. It was found the inherited practices and cultural norms have a big influence on team behaviour, and there is a gap between the declarative knowledge and the skill-based outcomes. In conclusion the cooperative learning practice is generally effective leading to an improved cultural appropriated approach to teamwork teaching being proposed.
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