Higher education teachers teams shared mental model building in team meetings

TEACHER: Rike Bron


As work in organisations more and more has to be carried out by teams, learning also becomes important not only at the individual, but at the team level. Especially in the context of change and innovation, team learning process play an important role (Decuyper, Dochy & Van den Bossche, 2010). We know that in order to be effective, teams need to come to an agreement about their task and how to solve it: a shared mental model (Van den Bossche, Gijselaers, Segers, Woltjer, & Kirschner, 2011). Because shared mental models are constructed in team interaction, they are difficult to capture and continuously changing (Akkerman et al., 2007). In this project you will investigate how a shared mental model emerges and changes during team conversation.

The implementation of the ‘Twents Onderwijsmodel’ (TOM, or Twente Educational Model) is an example of an innovation concerning teams. Teachers could no longer individually teach their course, but had to work together in teams in order to develop their 15 ECTS courses. These higher education teacher teams working on innovative courses form the context in which your assignment takes place. Investigating team meeting data, you will analyze the construction of a shared mental model (what should our TOM-course look like?) in these teams. How do teacher teams collaboratively construct a shared mental model? How often do they reconsider their decisions? What are difficult and recurring topics in their discussion? These are examples of relevant research questions in this project.


You work with data from video recorded team meetings. You will help with the qualitative coding of team decisions. The analyses that you perform on the coded data depend on the research question.


Team learning, shared mental model, teamwork, innovation


  • Akkerman, S., Van den Bossche, P., Admiraal, W., Gijselaers, W., Segers, M., Simons, R.-J., & Kirschner, P. (2007). Reconsidering group cognition: From conceptual confusion to a boundary area between cognitive and socio-cultural perspectives? Educational Research Review, 2(1), 39-63. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2007.02.001
  • Van den Bossche, P., Gijselaers, W., Segers, M., Woltjer, G., & Kirschner, P. (2011). Team learning: building shared mental models. Instructional Science, 39(3), 283-301. doi:10.1007/s11251-010-9128-3