June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1254.1 - 26.1254.20
Problem solving in a multidisciplinary environment: observations from a newly developed program Problem solving is seen as a desirable trait for workers in industry (Green & Jax, 2011;Saavedra & Saavedra, 2011), and also for students in general (International TechnologyEducation Association, 2007, 2002, 2000; National Research Council, 2012). This paperanalyses problem solving strategies from freshman students in a newly developed program. Theprogram has been created to focus on developing students for a new economic and social settingthat has emerged, where higher order skills are the driving force. These include, among others,unstructured problem solving, teamwork, and collaboration. Students who chose to participate inthe program have an interest in disciplines as diverse as mechanical engineering technology,building construction management, theater, and computer graphics technology. The studentscurrently enrolled in the program attended two core courses during their first semester: (1) designlab, an introduction to the design process in a studio setting, and (2) seminar, a collaborativeexperience incorporating English, communication as well as digital literacy.Multidisciplinary groups are taken as beneficial for problem solving and creativity becausepeople working in that type of environment tend to produce a wider range of solutions, in lesstime, showing improved self confidence (Denton, 1997). Because students in this program comefrom differing disciplinary areas, their views about how to achieve their goals may also vary.The study uses a qualitative approach to better understand how students with differentdisciplinary interests apply their problem solving skills in a studio based learning environment,through the use of case study analysis of the design lab class. Observations were made duringclass time, in the last months of the students´ first semester in the program. Using Jonassen’s(1997) seven steps of ill defined problem solutions to classify the observations and analyze howsuccessfully peer contributions are made by each student, researchers were able to follow howstudents collaborate, organize themselves, and share experiences to conduct their design tasks.This paper approaches multidisciplinary problem solving from the social constructivism view. Inthis sense researchers assumed that students learn from sharing experiences and socialinteractions (Hirtle, 1996; Jackson & Klobas, 2008). The study provides complementaryinformation to already developed theory from the field, but presents the finding from studentsthat are not only enrolled in a multidisciplinary class, but also participate in a multidisciplinaryprogram. Findings from this study can help researchers and faculty develop activities that buildupon peer learning in a design studio environment.
El Debs, L. C., & Dionne, R., & Exter, M., & Shaurette, M. (2015, June), Problem Solving in a Multidisciplinary Environment: Observations from a Newly Developed Program Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24591
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