The current study investigated the experiences of engineering graduate students in two interdisciplinary research laboratories studying materials engineering, their perceptions of influences on their learning and goals, and the collaborative tasks needed to produce quality journal articles. In a qualitative inquiry using constant comparison methods, data came from individual interviews of lab members and observations. Findings coalesced in three themes. First, the lab structure and lines of communication seemed to influence group collaboration and individual learning. Second, the importance of peer collaboration seemed crucial to students’ knowledge acquisition through lab work. Finally, a lab's climate and culture influenced individuals’ productivity and motivation to participate in research, sometimes facilitating, sometimes impeding progress in becoming fully participating lab members. Contributions include providing a better understanding of how engineering graduate students’ lives in the lab are situated and intertwined with group collaborative processes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes