A2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review
A systematic mapping study on group work research in computing education projects (2023)

Kokkoniemi, M., & Isomöttönen, V. (2023). A systematic mapping study on group work research in computing education projects. Journal of Systems and Software, 204, Article 111795. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2023.111795

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsKokkoniemi, Mikko; Isomöttönen, Ville

Journal or seriesJournal of Systems and Software



Publication year2023

Publication date28/06/2023


Article number111795


Publication countryUnited States

Publication languageEnglish


Research data linkhttp://dx.doi.org/10.17632/dcpymshp8k.1

Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/88769


For developing students’ group- and teamwork skills needed in the team-oriented work environments of the software industry, the role of project-based learning is considered central. Yet there does not appear to be a proper mapping of the current group work research in the computer science project education literature. Thus, the current state of group work research in the research area is somewhat unknown.

This study aims to form an overview of how research has addressed students’ group work in the field of computer science (CS) and software engineering (SE) to identify research gaps as well as suitable topics for more detailed literature reviews.

A systematic mapping study was used to investigate how group work in tertiary education has been undertaken in the literature during the past decade.

Based on the selected papers, the most investigated group work areas were related to the assessment of groups, group formation, communication, and cooperation. The research appeared to be quite narrowly focused on a few areas. Most of the papers were experience or evaluation research. A case study using interviews or questionnaires to gather data from a single course was the most representative type of study. The papers were mainly published in scientific conferences. The use of theoretical frameworks was limited, with a focus on a few established frameworks. Tuckman’s group development theory was the predominant framework, while other commonly used concepts and theories include social loafing, Kolb’s learning style theory, and the Big Five personality traits model.

Out of 7515 papers screened, 225 were deemed eligible and analyzed. We conclude a need for more focused group work research in CS/SE student projects, in which education is inspected from particular perspectives. This would create identifiable lines of research and structure the research area. Relatedly, we suggest that the underused theoretical frameworks can inspire important research: group interventions would benefit from a socially shared regulated learning perspective, explicit use of justice theories would improve theoretical understandings of group behavior, and transactional distance would help analyze how students adopt a software process. Moreover, the research area could be precipitated by novel theoretical perspectives. For practitioners, those implementing a group project course can benefit from a large amount of literature on assessment and group formation, which are issues on which the teacher must take a position. We also include a lessons-learned summary for teachers. Generally, the present results outlining the field in a structured way can facilitate research-based teaching.

Keywordsgroup workteamworkproject learninghigher education (teaching)computer sciencesoftware engineeringsystematic reviews

Free keywordssystematic mapping study; group work; group projects; project education; PjBL

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2023

JUFO rating3

Last updated on 2024-03-07 at 00:06