Interdisciplinary teamwork in an authentic project-based learning environment.

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Research and Development in Higher Education: [Re] Valuing Higher Education Vol. 41

July, 2018, 266 pages
Published by
Dale Wache and Don Houston

A recent trend in higher education relates to the promotion of creative skills through the adoption of interdisciplinary group work pedagogies. Although research has documented the benefits of teamwork on students’ learning outcomes, what is less well-known is how students from different disciplines interact with one another to develop a creative product. This paper reports on a study examining group interactions occurring within an interdisciplinary project involving Graphic Design, Communication, Information Technology and Psychology students. Insights into the group dynamics were determined from student self-reports; team interaction data (collected from sociometric devices) and online engagement activity (derived from the online collaboration platform). Analyses of the sociometric data demonstrated significant interdisciplinary interactions occurring in face-to-face sessions, and that over time, verbal participation became more equal among students in the various disciplines. Analysis of online collaboration activity suggested that students from a Graphic Design background were the most active, while Communication students, though very active in face-to-face sessions, were the least active in online collaboration. Self-reports suggest that students had a positive experience of the course, and reported learning gains with respect to group work skills, learning gains, and helping them to be work-ready. A further contribution of the paper is in the use of learning analytics to complement student perceptions of the interdisciplinary teamwork experience. Implications for future implementations of the interdisciplinary teamwork approach are discussed.

Keywords: interdisciplinary teamwork, group work, learning analytics, sociometrics

 Interdisciplinary teamwork in an authentic project-based learning environment.

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 Lim, L., Andrew, Jane., Lewis, S. & Gao, J.