Tomorrow's challenges for today's students: challenge-based learning and interdisciplinarity

Antoine van den Beemt*, Miles A.J. MacLeod

*Corresponding author for this work

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

4 Citations (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)


TU/e innovation Space offers an environment for students to work in interdisciplinary teams on societal problems. These problems ask for development of a shared language for interdisciplinary collaboration and to facilitate learning processes. Little is known about design characteristics for these problems, and what is needed to support interdisciplinarity in student teams. The educational concept Challenge-based learning (CBL) uses authentic
societal problems ('challenges') to urge student learning. The main research question for this case study is: What design characteristics of innovation Space challenges support interdisciplinary student collaboration? Data collection consisted of analysis of learning materials, interviews with teachers and students, student surveys about motivation and collaborative learning in four courses and two honour’s tracks. The results show how teachers ask for competence development in supporting students, especially in assessing and integrating discipline knowledge. Students reported high motivation combined with anxiety for open and complex challenges. Over time this anxiety decreases, as students develop knowledge to solve the challenge. Students also reported a need for a clear mapping of learning goals to activities and assessment. For students it appeared often unclear how and on what criteria they are assessed. Yet, students also reported support in developing ownership, self-directed learning, and collaborative learning. This study confirms existing literature that emphasises difficulties in students developing rigorous discipline knowledge in CBL and interdisciplinary assessment. This study increases our understanding of challenge design and how interdisciplinarity can be situated in this design. It offers starting points for research on motivation and collaborative learning in CBL.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 49th SEFI Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationBlended Learning in Engineering Education: challenging, enlightening - and lasting?
PublisherSEFI ISEL
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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