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Interdisciplinary challenge-based learning : a descriptive study

Uthrapathi Shakila, Niveditha (2021) Interdisciplinary challenge-based learning : a descriptive study.

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Abstract:There is a growing recognition that the complex problems to be addressed in the world require perspectives from multiple fields. As higher education is the pathway to the workplace, it is imperative to develop well-rounded graduates with both, a depth of knowledge in their field and an understanding of the breadth of perspectives from other fields. Although interdisciplinary education has been adopted in many institutions, there are considerable difficulties in implementation such as alignment to vision, teamwork, and support related problems. This study sets out to describe the implementation of an interdisciplinary module, “From Idea to Prototype” that had students from nine study programmes who worked on a challenge-based learning assignment. The assignment involved real-world partners in whose organisations the challenges were set. The mixed-methods case study was conducted to examine the perceived value of the module, support for students and staff, collaboration in the interdisciplinary groups, and the competency outcomes. Data was collected through several instruments (observations, focus group studies, document analysis, interviews, survey) from different stakeholders (students, staff) to gain holistic insight. The results of the study showed that the students and staff valued the interdisciplinary module and especially appreciated the real-world challenges. Regarding support for students, the multiple options were found to be enabling factors while the minimal structure and guidance were the limiting factors. In terms of collaboration in the groups, students recognized the role of the other disciplines, improved their communication, and had varying levels of integration of disciplinary knowledge. The groups faced difficulties such as an unequal distribution of workload and disciplinary differences causing tension. Lastly, the key competencies developed in the module were perspective-taking, communication, collaboration, reflection, and confidence in existing skills and knowledge. Recommendations for improving the module such as scaffolding support for students, developing the ID teaching team, improving peer interactions, and careful recruitment of external challenges are made along with suggestions for future research.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
University of Twent
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:80 pedagogy, 81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
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