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Moving Towards Individual Competence From Group Work in Transdisciplinary Education

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Professional Skills and Teaming in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Colin M. Gray Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Colin M. Gray is an Assistant Professor at Purdue University in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology and a Fellow in the Educational Research and Development Incubator. He holds a PhD in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University Bloomington, a MEd in Educational Technology from University of South Carolina, and a MA in Graphic Design from Savannah College of Art & Design. His research focuses on the role of student experience in informing a critical design pedagogy, and the ways in which the pedagogy and underlying studio environment inform the development of design thinking, particularly in relation to critique and professional identity formation. His work crosses multiple disciplines, including engineering education, instructional design and technology, design theory and education, and human-computer interaction.

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Marisa Exter Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Marisa Exter is an Assistant Professor of Learning Design and Technology in the College of Education at Purdue University. Dr. Exter’s research aims to provide recommendations to improve or enhance university-level design and technology programs (such as Instructional Design, Computer Science, and Engineering). Some of her previous research has focused on software designers’ formal and non-formal educational experiences and use of precedent materials, and experienced instructional designers’ beliefs about design character. These studies have highlighted the importance of cross-disciplinary skills and student engagement in large-scale, real-world projects.

Dr. Exter currently leads an effort to evaluate a new multidisciplinary degree program which provides both liberal arts and technical content through competency-based experiential learning.

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Terri S. Krause Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16

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Terri Krause is a second year PhD student in Learning Design & Technology, a Graduate Research Assistant in Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and is serving on the research and evaluation team for the Transdisciplinary Studies in Technology (TST) program. Her interests include adapting learning experiences for cross-cultural instructional and online instructional environments; with a values-based, ethical focus.

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Collaboration has been identified as a key 21st century skill, vital for success in multidisciplinary environments that are increasingly common in engineering and technology contexts. While researchers have frequently discussed how students develop competencies that facilitate success in groups, little is known about how individual students build their own sense of competence and autonomy after working primarily in groups. In this paper, we present results from an undergraduate transdisciplinary degree program in which students spent the first two years of their core degree experience working almost exclusively in groups, while also developing an individual set of disciplinary interests and competencies. Researchers built an understanding of students’ individual and group development through extended ethnographic engagement, focus groups, and interviews as students worked concurrently on group and individual projects for the first time during the first semester of their junior year. Based on analysis of this transitional semester, we identified strategies that students used to build an individual sense of competence, in both technical and “soft” skills. These strategies allow for a fuller conversation regarding how students adapt competence gained in their group experiences and identify new areas of competence that must be confronted and mastered. These findings indicate the need to further understand the differences in the ways that the sequencing of group and individual work might impact the development of competencies in individual students, and the ways in which a project-based environment can encourage this development in a systematic and sustainable way.

Gray, C. M., & Exter, M., & Krause, T. S. (2017, June), Moving Towards Individual Competence From Group Work in Transdisciplinary Education Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28691

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