Objectives: To explore resident learning in the context of emergency situations. The guiding research questions were: How do residents learn in emergency situations? What factors facilitate or hinder their learning? Design: A qualitative approach was used in order to understand the different perspectives of participants and explore the context of emergency situations. Aware of the complex sociocultural interactions in emergency situations, we used the methodology of constructivist grounded theory. Setting: A medium-sized pediatric academic hospital in San Antonio, TX. Subjects: Twenty pediatric residents participated in semi-structured interviews. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: We used an iterative process of data collection and analysis. The process continued until thematic saturation was reached. The data were coded and analyzed using constant comparison. Codes were clustered into themes informed by the theory of situated learning. Several methods were used to ensure trustworthiness of results. Three main themes were identified. First, resident participation in emergency situations takes different forms. Residents participate mostly in helping roles. Watching is an under-recognized form of participation yet offered unique experiences. Managing roles are rarely afforded to residents. Second, resident participation is informed by the context of the emergency situation. Based on contextual clues (e.g., safety, needs), residents infer potential risks and values from their participation, which guides their participatory role. Residents may shift their form of participation, based on changes in the context. Supervisors play a significant role in guiding resident participation. Third, engagement, a state of cognitive and emotional focus, is critical in learning. The context of the emergency situation plays a role in the level of resident engagement. Supervisors may also foster resident engagement. Conclusions: Resident participation in emergency situations is complex and informed by the context. Learning in emergency situations is influenced by residents' level of mental engagement. Supervisors may positively guide resident participation, foster engagement, and enable them to reach their learning goals in emergency situations.