Project introduction and background information
In the proposed project, the goal is to develop a program for Bachelor End Project students that allows them to do their project in their own departments, but present their work in an interdisciplinary group with students of multiple departments. The short-term effect of this program is that it enables students to learn to communicate their research findings with peers in other fields. The long-term effect is that it better prepares those students for their professional careers in which they will need to be able to communicate with specialists from different domains.
Objective and expected outcomes
The main objective of the project is that students learn to communicate about their work to peers with different backgrounds. In order to achieve this, students need to be given the right tools and support that helps them develop this new skill. Students from three educational programs will participate in the project. These three educational programs were chosen to represent a large variety of engineers, with Psychology and Technology students with a strong experimental research focus, Architecture, Urbanism and Building Sciences students with a strong design focus, and Mechanical Engineering students with a strong technological focus.
In sum, the project enables students to become more experienced in interdisciplinary settings, which allows them to develop as our engineers of the future. Since most of our students will not do this through student teams or projects in Innovation Space, requiring them to present their research findings to peers from different disciplines is a viable alternative. Ultimately this will make our graduates able to communicate better in the multidisciplinary environments in which they will find their careers.
Results and learnings
The main three takeaways from the project are: (1) When students are to present their work in front of an interdisciplinary audience, the best way to prepare them for this is making them perform an audience analysis. (2) Assessment of presentations that students give in front of an interdisciplinary audience should focus on both form and content, and the audience analysis element should not be a separate element of the assessment forms (rubrics). (3) Analyzing an interdisciplinary audience and connecting one’s own disciplinary work to that audience provides opportunities for fitting their disciplinary knowledge in a larger network, showing the value of interdisciplinary presentations for engineering students.