Research Papers

Document Type

Conference Paper


Experience in interdisciplinary problem-solving is considered crucial if engineers are to be equipped to handle modern complex environmental and sustainability challenges. Such challenges cross disciplinary boundaries. Project-based learning is currently a central paradigm for providing that experience. Teams from different disciplines are formed to work together on a specific scientific or engineering projecttask (often a real-world inspired problem). Furthermore according to the paradigm projects should be open-structured to allow students to experience interdisciplinary problem-solving as it might occur in the real world. In this study we explore preliminary results of data collected on 5 project-based modules at a Dutch technical university. We find that despite the preference for open-structure advocated in educational research the modules differ in terms of how structured they are, with the majority structured in a substantial way. In these cases the instructors design their project tasks to meet both institutional objectives and also to afford interdisciplinary interaction between students. We examine the motivations behind the design features they employ, and also some of the drawbacks based on student feedback. This study points the way to further research but should help build awareness of different design option and their tradeoffs.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.