Student-driven Learning of Professional Skills in the Support of Interdisciplinary Teamwork

Coralie Johnson*, Miles A.J. MacLeod, Klaasjan Visscher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

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Interdisciplinary project-based learning facilitates the development of a range of skills and knowledge through autonomous learning or an experiential educational structure. The ability to cooperate across disciplinary boundaries within a team environment is an inextricable component, and supporting the necessarily skills for doing so, via the deliberate development professional skills-training, is arguably crucial. As tutors may lack time or expertise to extensively scaffold interdisciplinary teamwork, the question is whether a minimally guided student-driven learning context in which students are left to decide on which professional skills to develop, can be effective, given the collaborative challenges students face. For this study, a trial was implemented to ascertain whether students would recognise the importance of and engage with, resources designed to foster professional skills in a collaborative interdisciplinary context. A variety of student-driven resources were implemented with varying degrees of success. Students were encouraged to use a team contract with the aim to delineate expectations and pre-empt strife. Professional skill resources on topics such as communication and conflict management were offered in order to enhance self-reflection and self-development. There was some indication that team contracts offer a safe condition to set expectations, but there was low interest in the student-driven courses aimed at professional skills. The results suggest autonomous modes of learning may not be appropriate for the development of such skills. The ability to motivate students to adopt the student-driven approach as well as prioritise time in their busy schedules, remains elusive. Details on the rationale of resources as well as recommendations for use are offered.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 49th SEFI Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationBlended Learning in Engineering Education: challenging, enlightening - and lasting?
EditorsHans-Ulrich Heiss, Hannu-Motti Järvinen, Annette Mayer, Alexandra Schulz
PublisherSEFI ISEL
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-87352-023-6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021
Event49th SEFI Annual Conference 2021: Blended Learning in Engineering Education: challenging, enlightening - and lasting? - Virtual, Berlin, Virtual, Germany
Duration: 13 Sept 202116 Sept 2021


Conference49th SEFI Annual Conference 2021
CityBerlin, Virtual
Internet address


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