Nonacademic Writing: Social Theory and Technology

By Ann Hill Duin; Craig J. Hansen | Go to book overview

6
"Some People Weren't Able to Contribute Anything but Their Technical Knowledge": The Anatomy of a Dysfunctional Team

Rebecca E. Burnett Iowa State University

The goal was to put [the students on the team] in a realistic setting so that they learned how to integrate a complex design with many different areas . . . making engineering estimates, working with incomplete information, adhering to a time line when you don't have all the information . . . learning the communications and the writing. (Interview with Ron Paulson, Faculty Facilitator, 1993)1

I think "What have I been doing?". . . I mean, I was supposed to learn something from this. (Interview with Khuan Chin, Senior in Computer Engineering, 1993)1

The potential benefits of cooperative learning and classroom collaboration have been well documented. Benefits include increases in learning (over more teacher-centered methods), support from scaffolding, exploration of substantive conflict, abrogation of solitary authority, and consideration of rhetorical elements that comes from collaborative planning (e.g., Bruffee, 1994; Burnett, 1993; Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989; Flower, Wallace, Norris, & Burnett, 1994; Sharan, 1990). The widespread use of collaboration in the workplace is equally well documented ( Anderson, 1985; Couture

____________________
1
Although the names of the organization and the project have not been changed, the names of all but one of the individuals involved -- both professionals and students -- have been changed for anonymity, although pseudonyms accurately reflect gender. Christianna White is the actual name of the M.A. student in the Business and Technical Communication program at ISU who also had a research assistantship to work on the IDMM team.

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