University of Twente Student Theses


Challenges of interdisciplinary engineering education : a case study for the module Discrete Structures and Efficient Algorithms

Petrová, Nikola (2020) Challenges of interdisciplinary engineering education : a case study for the module Discrete Structures and Efficient Algorithms.

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Abstract:Interdisciplinary education is a modern educational approach that is recently frequently used to shape university engineering curricula. It integrates insights and perspectives from different disciplines to tackle complex social challenges and helps students develop 21st century skills. However, many challenges related to the effective application of interdisciplinary education are yet to be tackled. To identify those interdisciplinary challenges and perceived interdisciplinary values, a case study was performed within the module “Discrete Structures & Efficient Algorithms” at the University of Twente, in which bachelor students mainly from Applied Mathematics and Technical Computer Science worked on a shared team project. To identify the main interdisciplinary challenges within the module, a 4TU framework, which aims to align three levels of educational processes (vision, education, and facilitation) and to analyse and develop interdisciplinary education, was applied. Besides, the effect of the Covid-19 crisis, during which the module took place, on team collaboration was also investigated. All data were collected from students’ surveys, staff interviews and the module documentation. We found that both academic staff and students perceived interdisciplinary education valuable, as such experience broadens students’ perspectives and may be beneficial in their future career. In this module, however, little attention was paid to develop an effective interdisciplinary experience. Notably, no learning outcomes existed that were directly related to interdisciplinary collaboration. Due to practical constraints (large student numbers), students support was redesigned (to “coaching for all”) and turned out to be less optimal. Also, the ability of each participating programme to contribute equally to the project was imbalanced. Besides, the staff team showed low internal coherence and received minimal support on interdisciplinary education, therefore was not able to fully support the students. Consequently, we recommend implementing interdisciplinary learning outcome(s), support students’ collaboration (staff training, an interdisciplinary workshop for students, coaching by teaching assistants). Also, the syllabi of both bachelor programmes need to be reviewed and staff teamwork can be optimized by organizing staff meetings.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
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