A1 Journal article (refereed)
Digging into group establishment : intervention design and evaluation (2021)

Isomöttönen, V., & Ritvos, E. (2021). Digging into group establishment : intervention design and evaluation. Journal of Systems and Software, 178, Article 110974. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2021.110974

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsIsomöttönen, Ville; Ritvos, Emmi

Journal or seriesJournal of Systems and Software



Publication year2021


Article number 110974


Publication countryUnited States

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/76275


Previous research has documented challenges in students’ group work. An identifiable segment of the previous research that relates to improving students’ group work conditions is the study of group formation and self- and peer-assessment. Though studies that primarily focus on how to address the conditions of students’ group work and the existing problems can be found, there are not many related to higher education settings. On this ground, the present article advances a qualitative evaluation of the intervention that promotes student groups’ self-awareness and thereby self-regulation toward fair group work during a software engineering project. An inductive thematic analysis was applied to the students’ written reflections on the intervention. To further understand the results, the concept of “group establishment,” referring to destructiveness that complicates individuals’ truthful living at the group level, was employed to reflect on the resulting themes. Hoggett (1998) provided this articulation by synthesizing previous results in psychoanalytic theory. Students’ experiences with the intervention revealed several value gains, including personally identified benefits as well as open group mood, consolidation of grouping, conceptual learning about group work, and regulation for task allocation. Noted challenges included dishonesty and a personal role conflict, and some students reported minor effects on group performance. Students valued safety in the intervention situation and argued that the intervention was needed from outside the group. A summative review of the students’ experiences suggests that the intervention was useful for all groups. The results are discussed from a pedagogic and the aforementioned psychoanalytic perspective, and remarks are made for software engineering education.

Keywordssoftware engineeringhigher education (teaching)pedagogy of higher educationgroup workgroup activityinterventionjustice

Free keywordssoftware engineering education; group work; intervention; group establishment; justice

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2021

JUFO rating3

Last updated on 2024-22-04 at 12:53