Interdisciplinary education: a case study at the University of Twente

Daniëlle Kuiphuis-Aagten*, Karin M.J. Slotman, Miles A.J. MacLeod

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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The ability to cross boundaries is considered fundamental to the ability of scientists, engineers and others to solve modern real-world problems. As with other educational fields engineering higher education needs to find suitable interdisciplinary approaches to meet these requirements. While there is much current study of interdisciplinary learning it remains a challenge to formulate general strategies for implementing interdisciplinary education in a way that students become skilled collaborative problem-solvers. At the University of Twente there are currently opportunities to explore different responses educators have to this challenge, through the study of the High Tech Human Touch minors: a programme which offers minor courses to meet interdisciplinary learning objectives. This case study performs a comparison between the 10 HTHT minor courses relying on the education model ADDIE, to elicit similarity and diversity, and related challenges, with respect to how instructors in each course have responded to their interdisciplinary task. To make this comparison the student-perspective has been taken into account through interviews and evaluations, in addition to desk-research and semi-structured interviews with teachers. In current literature there is little information about how students perceive interdisciplinary education, yet such information can help understand the complexity needed for an interdisciplinary ‘pedagogy’. Comparing the 10 HTHT minors, a range of different interdisciplinary educational designs can be identified, with distinct challenges to each, beyond the canonical model of collaboration-based designs. Especially noteworthy is the fact that students consciously opt for these HTHT minors to learn from other disciplines, but that this is not often the learning outcome, signalling a frequent gap between student expectations and educational outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2019
Event47th SEFI Annual Conference 2019: Varietas Delectat: Complexity is the New Normality - Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 16 Sep 201919 Sep 2019
Conference number: 47


Conference47th SEFI Annual Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleSEFI 2019
Internet address


  • Interdisciplinary studies
  • Engineering Education
  • Educational design

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