Project introduction and background information
One of the aspects engineering education is focusing on, is to prepare the future engineer to solve complex socio-technical issues. These problems often involve rapidly changing technology and fields of expertise, coupled with a diverse group of stakeholders embodying different values, principles, and ways of working. A future engineer thus needs to be able to engage in transdisciplinary collaboration. But how can the competencies required for transdisciplinary collaboration be learned?
Our research focuses on how to facilitate transdisciplinary learning (TDL). By monitoring students and lecturers within a transdisciplinary context. This data will be used to design a toolbox to support lecturers in facilitating transdisciplinary learning.
Our research consists of three phases in which we monitor students and lecturers participating in transdisciplinary courses. The first phase explores the drivers and barriers of students within a transdisciplinary course ‘C-Lab’, at both minor and master level, as part of the Communication Design for Innovation masters at TU Delft. How these students can best be supported is used as input for the second phase: the current and desired profile for lecturers facilitating a transdisciplinary learning environment. The lecturers’ best practices and interventions are coupled with possible improvements to facilitate TDL, by prototyping the toolbox. The last phase includes testing and validating the toolbox. Furthermore, the scalability of the toolbox is tested within a different educational context.
Objective and expected outcomes
The objective of this research project is to create a toolbox for lecturers who want to develop and provide transdisciplinary education for engineers. Moreover, the toolbox contains the possibility of monitoring the transdisciplinary learning process and explicates possible adaptability points. The latter could be described as a set of monitoring variables on which decisions could be made upon. The explication of these decisions generates insights into the learning process. Although the toolbox supports the lecturer in his/her process of professionalization, the toolbox should be considered as a transdisciplinary co-design workbench for the students and the professionals as well.
The toolbox itself is embedded in the daily practice and connects with the lecturer’s current mindset and his/her interaction with the students and professionals. The toolkit itself is simple without losing the ability to start and sustain a transdisciplinary learning process for all participants in which all start differently. Hence, the toolkit is based on the essentials of transdisciplinary learning. Essentials that spark and nudge the transdisciplinary thinking of the lecturer, the students and the professionals, and their ability to make decisions upon. This entails the development of adaptation tipping points conceptually, theoretically and practically/heuristically.
Since it is an essential toolkit it is transferable through all kinds of transdisciplinary engineering education practices, and it is seamlessly applicable in the daily transdisciplinary education practice. It not only supports the start, but also scaffolds the process and the reflection thereof.