Team Dynamics and Learning Opportunities in Social Science Research Teams

  • Michelle K McGinn Faculty of Education Brock University
  • Ewelina K. Niemczyk Education and Human Rights in Diversity Research Unit, North-West University


Although the contemporary research environment encourages knowledge generation through research collaboration rather than individualized projects, limited scholarly attention has been devoted to the practice of collaboration within research teams. This paper presents a qualitative analysis of team dynamics and learning opportunities within four social science research teams. The findings reveal similarities and differences in leadership style and interaction approaches that affected how research was undertaken and the possibilities for team members to learn from each other. The snapshots provide models for other research teams that extend situated learning theories and the existing research base about collaboration, research teams, and research leadership.

Key words: research teams, research leadership, researcher development, situated learning

Bien que le milieu actuel de la recherche encourage la génération des connaissances par la collaboration en recherche plutôt que par les projets individuels, les universitaires ont accordé peu d’attention à la pratique collaborative au sein des équipes de recherche. Cet article présente une analyse qualitative de la dynamique des équipes et des occasions d’apprentissage au sein de quatre équipes de recherche en sciences sociales. Les résultats révèlent des ressemblances et des différences dans le style de leadership et les démarches d’interaction qui ont eu une influence sur la façon dont la recherche a été entreprise et sur les possibilités pour les membres des équipes d’apprendre l’un de l’autre. Les aperçus offrent des modèles pour d’autres équipes de recherche et contribuent aux théories de l’apprentissage contextualisé et à la base de recherche portant sur la collaboration, les équipes de recherche et le leadership en recherche.

Mots clés : équipes de recherche, leadership en recherche, développement des chercheurs, apprentissage contextualisé

Author Biographies

Michelle K McGinn, Faculty of Education Brock University
Dr. Michelle K. McGinn is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University. Her research and teaching interests focus on higher education, research ethics, mentorship, graduate student development, research teams, and researcher identity.
Ewelina K. Niemczyk, Education and Human Rights in Diversity Research Unit, North-West University

Professor Ewelina K. Niemczyk has experience in a variety of teaching and research positions in Canadian and South African contexts. Her scholarly work focuses on research education and research practice, higher education for sustainable development, as well as education in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries. In terms of the former, Prof. Niemczyk explores current research realities associated with the demands of research productivity and researcher development. The line of research across the BRICS member states examines educational practices that can be shared to maximize quality of education. As a President of the BRICSEd Association—under the BRICS@NWU, she is dedicated to promote academic excellence across the BRICS countries and beyond. Professor Niemczyk’s scholarly interests are reinforced through the modules she teaches at North-West University in International and Comparative Education as well as her publications. As per contribution to the scholarly community, she actively serves as a journal and conference reviewer; book editor; conference chair; and keynote speaker.