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Interdisciplinary project work: practice makes perfect?

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1 Author(s)
Ivins, J.R. ; Dept. of Electron. Eng., De Montfort Univ., Leicester, UK

This paper reports the findings of an action research study into a major interdisciplinary group project. The project was performed over one semester by some 180 third-year undergraduate students majoring in engineering and design disciplines at De Montfort University in the United Kingdom. The paper discusses the rationale behind the project, the academic background of the students and the project brief. In addition, the assessment criteria used by the academic staff to assess the work of the groups is introduced. The paper utilizes the research findings to identify and discuss a number of changes in students' performance, attitude and culture. The results of the research into undergraduate multi-disciplinary teams are compared to findings from research into multi-disciplinary projects operated in the European motor car industry. Finally, a comparison is then made with current findings of studies of student multi-disciplinary work in the American academic environment. The author concludes that multi-disciplinary product design teams yield many tangible benefits including the rapid development of marketable products. Undergraduate students also gain many intangible benefits such as improved interpersonal skills, positive emotions and an increase in personal performance and motivation through working in multi-disciplinary teams

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Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:40 ,  Issue: 3 )