COLLABORATIVE TEAMWORK. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STUDENT’S PERCEPTION AND ACADEMIC RESULTS
Innovative techniques in learning process include the integration of transversal competences in the designed course activities. Among them, collaborative work and effective communication have a clear impact in the formation of the future engineers. In this work we analyse the relationship between the student’s perception on collaborative work and their performance, not only on the team performance but also on the influence on the individual work. The participants were a group of 160 students, divided into three class groups, following two subjects of physics of the first year Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Electronics and Automation Engineering at the Design Engineering School (ETSID) of the Universitat Politècnica de València. The students worked in teams of 6 students in solving some problems and in the laboratory sessions as well. They had to present a document with the explanation of the solved problem or the laboratory report. For each unit, half of the teams had to solve a problem (different for each team) and the other half had to correct and present a document providing justification of their judgement. Having into account the suggestions of their colleagues, one member of the group had to present the solution of the problem to the rest of the class.
Some concerns have been posed in literature related with teamwork, specially related with free riders and the lack of trust on their colleagues. In a preliminary study where students were asked to answer a survey, we detected the same problems. In order to get a deeper knowledge of the situation we have interviewed the teams of students twice. First, at the beginning of the course we asked them about the strategies they were following and how did they feel. In a second interview we looked for any change. We asked similar questions to that of the survey and then we were able to complete the information. Once the course have finished we looked for correlations between their answers related with the way they work, and their academic results (marks), for the team and individually.
As expected, we found strong correlation between the academic results obtained in teams and those obtained individually. There is also some correlation between the way the team works and the results (although this relationship was not so noticeable). More than half of the teams recognize that not all the members contribute equally to the work. However, only some soft conflicts were detected. What it seemed evident was that the team results were clearly affected by either the team had troubles, such as the presence of free riders, or, by contrast, the team had good practices.