How to coach students that work on complex design challenges of a multi-disciplinary nature?

In the long run, the aim of the Eindhoven University of Technology is to educate the engineer of the future who deals with complex design challenges which are multidisciplinary by nature (CDCM) requiring creative and innovative thinking and making skills (source: website TU/e). Dealing with this kind of challenges asks for a non-traditional design engineering approach and a different way of educating students to deal with such challenges (Buchanon, 1992; Hummels and Frens, 2009). Although there is a lot of practical knowledge and experience available about how to coach CDCM, across the departments, there is little empirical evidence available to inform policy makers, curriculum developers and teachers about how students that work on CDCM should be coached (Razzouk and Shute, 2012).  

This project aimed to derive insight and understanding into what coaching students that work on CDCM entails and will result in elements for a blended training module to support teachers in mastering the necessary competencies pertaining to coaching students that work on CDCM. For these purposes we will undertake different studies (in parallel). Figure 1 gives an overview of these studies and the envisioned end product.

As becomes clear from visual 1, this project approaches coaching CDCM from different angles to explicate what good coaching of CDCM entails and to translate these findings into concrete elements for a professional development module about coaching CDCM. 

  • Study 1: Interviewing teachers to explicate their implicit knowledge about how to coach students while working on CDCM explicit 
  • Study 2: Observing students while working on CDCM in USE design thinking course to provide more ‘objective’ information about how both students and teachers coaching CDCM situations and the challenges they are both facing 
  • Study 3: Intervening and stimulating and professional learning of teachers using the data team approach within the course ‘Project Robots Everywhere’ 
  • Study 4: Creating elements of a blended BKO module about coaching CDCM 

This project on how to coach students that work on Complex and Multidisciplinary Design Challenges (CDCM) integrated findings from interviews with Industrial Design Teachers, observations of coaches who worked on complex design challenges, a data team intervention study with teachers from a USE course, and a literature study. This process led to the formulation of guidelines for effective coaching (for an overview, see the next page). Members of the project team, educational experts and the teachers of project robots reviewed these guidelines. Based on their input we adjusted the guidelines. The final version of these guidelines is presented in the document. In Chapter 3, each guideline is presented and explained. Based on these guidelines we developed a self-assessment tool and peer-assessment tool to support teachers in developing their coaching competencies.

This project delivered several guidelines:

  • Guidelines for coaching students that work on Complex Design Challenges of a Multidisciplinary Nature.
  • Competencies for coaching students that work on Complex Design Challenges of a Multidisciplinary Nature.
  • A self-assessment tool and Peer-assessment tool for coaching students that work on CDCM.
  • Coaching interventions

These guidelines are available as appendix with the end report.