Recently, fostering industrial engineers has become an urgent need in Japanese manufacturing. Although manufacturing problem-based learning (PBL) has been initiated increasingly in higher education, the process of the formation of teamwork has not been explicated, even though an explication is necessary for establishing an effective method of evaluating classes. The present study describes a theoretical model for explaining and forecasting the process of teamwork formation in problem-based learning in manufacturing, and tests the model with data collected from 13 engineering students (12 males, 1 female) at 6 colleges. Analysis of the data with a Modified Grounded Theory Approach resulted in 42 concepts. Teamwork formation in manufacturing problem-based learning consisted of 3 processes: manufacturing, teamwork, and skill accumulation, and 3 main characteristics: (a) members' skills are challenged in relation to each manufacturing process, so that the manufacturing process forced teamwork formation, (b) the teamwork process started from the development of a sub-team (in this research, different engineering courses), and resulted in either collaboration or isolation, and (c) when members worked for the purpose of manufacturing, they acquired skills as a derivative of their teamwork. The discussion critiques previously published studies and provides suggestions for higher education and human resource management.
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