Engineering identity is believed as a significant indicator for engineering students’ professional persistence and competence development (Dannels, 2000; Johnson & Ulseth, 2016). Engineering identity could be understood as the awareness of the needed qualities of engineers (Dehing, et al., 2013), the sense of belonging in engineering groups (Knight et al., 2013), and self-identification as future engineers (Capobianco, et al., 2012). Recent research has explored components and measurement of engineering identity, as well as diverse perspectives related to engineering identity, such as gender and ethnicity, from the perspective of individuals or individual learning processes (Godwin, 2016; Matusovich, et al., 2011; Hunter et al., 2007). While collaboration is considered as an important component of engineering practices (Kendall, et al, 2019; Patrick et al, 2017), it is also necessary to explore how engineering identity is developed in a collaborative learning and team setting. In particular if we understand identity as built and developed constantly in the processes of negotiating the meaning of experience and interacting with others in social communities (Wenger, 1998). In engineering education, engineering identity is not just an individual concept but also is through interaction with peers, instructors, industry members in engineering communities. Existing studies mainly focused on students’ engineering identity development from the individual perspective (Godwin, 2016; Capobianco et al., 2012; Hazari et al., 2010), although teamwork may be employed as part of the course delivery methods in some studies, the role of teamwork has not been sufficiently evidenced.
For better understanding of how students’ engineering identity could be developed through teamwork, problem and project-based learning (PBL) was chosen as learning background since it provided students a simulative situation where students work in teams as real engineers to solve open-ended workplace problems (Edström & Kolmos, 2014). As one of the core teamwork learning methods, PBL was reported having positive influence on students’ engineering identity development (Du, 2006; Johnson & Ulseth, 2016). However, it is still unclear that in which way the teamwork in PBL enables the development of engineering identity. Therefore, this study aims to explore engineering students’ development of engineering identity in a PBL team setting. These findings are expected to help engineering students better develop engineering identity in PBL programmes, and inspire improvement to incorporate effective and meaningful learning experiences into the PBL design.
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