Qualified satisfaction: first-year architecture student perceptions of teamwork

James Robert Thompson*, Tarek Teba, Roberto Braglia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Across disciplines, skills associated with collaboration are now ubiquitously considered requisite graduate attributes and central to the development of independent learners. Despite decades of studies on the various dimensions of academic teamwork, challenges for both students and staff remain. For this year-long study at a UK school of architecture, we considered teamwork as a thread woven through the first-year curriculum, traversing course modules and project types. The primary aim of the study was to evaluate the collective impact of teamwork activities on the incoming cohort of 200+ undergraduate students and how the structuring and coordination of such activities might improve the holistic student experience.

Across two rounds of online questionnaires and focus group sessions with students, participants articulated the benefits of collaboration for learning, socialization, and professional development. However, resentment towards teamwork increased throughout the year, as frustration with disengaged cohort mates grew, and students sought greater structure and oversight from tutors. On the other hand, when given the chance to reflect on the multidimensional nature of teamwork in focus group discussions, many students adopted a productively nuanced perspective toward the topic. This implies that, whether students like or dislike certain aspects of collaborative projects, opportunities for critical conversation can promote or prompt an appreciation for the educational value of including teamwork projects in curricula. The results of this study should be relevant to educators seeking to improve the implementation and effectiveness of team-based learning, particularly those in higher and professional education contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-164
JournalInternational Journal of Art & Design Education
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


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