Adaptive, generative, and transformative learning in project teams

Valerie I. Sessa, Manuel London, Christopher Pingor, Beyza Gullu, Juhi Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of this study is to analyze a framework of team learning that includes three learning processes (adaptive, generative, and transformative), factors that stimulate these processes, and consequences of them. The variables provided a field study of the model. Design/methodology/approach: In the field study, 69 project teams of 3 to 11 students and their instructors responded to surveys. Findings: Positive learning stimuli were related to adaptive and generative learning processes, while negative stimuli were related to transformative learning processes. Learning processes were related to individual student learning outcomes. In addition, adaptive and generative learning processes were positively related to team and instructor ratings of outcome quality, while transformative learning was negatively related to team ratings of outcome quality. Research limitations/implications: The results were subject to the following limitations: cross-sectional design, mostly self-report measures, and the lack of control endemic to field research. As such, this study is viewed as an initial test of the team-learning model in a field setting. Additional research, including longitudinal designs and experimental designs, are called for. Practical implications: This study adds to the growing literature on group learning. Educators and managers need to be aware that there are different kinds of learning processes in which groups can engage and that these are stimulated to occur differently and have a different impact on outcomes. Originality/value: Team learning is rarely assessed directly as a construct in its own right and there is a lack of empirical support delineating causes and consequences of team learning. This field study is a first step in this direction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-167
Number of pages22
JournalTeam Performance Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Adaptability
  • Learning methods
  • Learning processes
  • Project teams
  • Team learning


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