Observing cultural interactions in engineering design projects

Engineers Australia
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Conference for the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE2011) - Developing Engineers for Social Justice: Community Involvement, Ethics & Sustainability, 2011, pp. 184 - 190
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The University of Wollongong and partner institutions UTAS, UTS, and QUT have engaged in an ALTC funded project to address issues of intercultural competence in engineering. As a major component of this project, observational research techniques are being employed to assess the current state of intercultural competence in first and second year engineering students. The research described in this paper is a process employed by the authors to observe cultural interactions between students in first or second year design subjects. The process involves simple video recordings of the groupsâ interactions over the course of a normal project team meeting, which are then coded and analysed using NVivo 8. To identify cultural diversity within the observed groups and perceived intercultural competency, the observation session is followed by a brief survey which incorporates dimensions of self and peer evaluation. This research will be conducted at all four participating institutions over the teaching semesters of 2011. As well as establishing an overview of the current state of intercultural intelligence amongst engineering cohorts, these research outcomes will be used to develop packaged teaching modules for developing intercultural intelligence amongst both engineering students and teaching staff.
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