A software development course in a Singapore polytechnic : the role of teamwork and motivation
The main aim of this research was to establish the effectiveness of collaborative teamwork in a polytechnic (in Singapore) as an intervention strategy, especially for low performers. Using questionnaire surveys, this study investigated the changes in the students' motivational styles after they had worked in teams to complete a software development assignment. The self-worth related consequences of success and failure for high and low performers working in similar ability and mixed ability teams were also investigated. Another area that was investigated was the students' experience of working in teams and their perspectives on teamwork. Students were interviewed to find out their perceptions, feelings and behaviours when they were working in teams to complete their software development assignment. The motivational problems encountered by the students during the team working process were studied. While the mastery orientation factor scores of the four groups increased after the team assignment, the self-worth motivation factor scores for all the groups continued to be the highest, indicating that this maladaptive motivational style was still quite strong. The students continued to remain focused on ability. Ability differences were accentuated when students were allowed to form teams comprising of only low performers. Mixed ability teams also accentuated perceptions of ability differences. Even in high performers teams, high performers were found to be trying to demonstrate their ability to show that they were better than their teammates. Team failures resulted in accentuation of low ability, ability differences when comparing themselves to others, and feelings of shame and guilt, especially among the low performers. Some of the problems associated with team-working were found to be related to the maladaptive motivational styles of the students. For team work to be effective, teachers should address the potential problems of process and the factors that influence their occurrence. This is where constructivist theories of learning and instruction can provide a useful input to motivation theory.