OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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An Investigation of the Presence and Development of Social Capital in an Electrical Engineering Laboratory

TitleAn Investigation of the Presence and Development of Social Capital in an Electrical Engineering Laboratory
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBrown, S., L. Flick, and T. S. Fiez
JournalASEE J. Engineering Education
Volume98
Issue1
Pagination93-102
Date Published01/2009
Keywordsinformation sharing, qualitative research, social capital
Abstract

Social capital consists of resources embedded in social networks that are purposefully mobilized through personal interactions. This project examined the factors that affected the development of social capital in an electrical and computer engineering laboratory. Data were collected through participant observation over the course of a term, interviews with students, and a survey. Interview and observational data were analyzed to determine themes or patterns in behaviors and actions that indicated the presence of social capital and affected the development of social capital in this setting. The open-ended nature of the laboratory assignments and the complexity of a learning tool called TekBotTM required students to access information. The lack of relevant information from the teaching assistants, internet, and laboratory assignment handouts required students to mobilize information from each other to succeed. Multiple methods of data collection validate the result that specific factors encouraged the development of social capital in this laboratory.