Transdisciplinary Challenge-based Learning: Multi-Stakeholder Co-creation Combining Engineering Technology and Social Sciences

Conference: The Barcelona Conference on Education (BCE2022)
Title: Transdisciplinary Challenge-based Learning: Multi-Stakeholder Co-creation Combining Engineering Technology and Social Sciences
Stream: Higher Education
Presentation Type: Poster Presentation
Kostas Nizamis, University of Twente, Netherlands
Mats van Dalen, University of Twente, Netherlands
Desirée H. van Dun, University of Twente, Netherlands
Eduardo Hermsen, University of Twente, Netherlands
Brendan Sullivan, University of Twente, Netherlands


Challenge-Based Learning (CBL) effectively engages and encourages multidisciplinary collaboration amongst university students to resolve real-world challenges. However, with increasing demand for more challenges, it can become difficult to identify external stakeholders willing to be challenge providers. To manage and alleviate the threat of challenge provider saturation, we studied how CBL can be best leveraged to create value for external stakeholders, and simultaneously enrich student learning experiences as part of a transdisciplinary Master program. Within this educational setting, faculties from both engineering and social sciences worked to merge two courses and perspectives (Systems Thinking and Change Making) around one comprehensive challenge. This multidimensional challenge required close cooperation between the teachers and challenge providers to formulate a wicked challenge that combined both practical and academic merit. Working through this common challenge the researchers aimed to mitigate the threat of stakeholder recruitment saturation while providing a new option for working across disciplines in CBL (both for students and teachers). In collaboration with university educational experts, the instructors evaluated the combination of the courses with all the actors (namely students, challenge providers, and teachers). Both before, during, and after the courses, panel meeting discussions, diary-style logbooks, testimonials, and surveys were administered. Despite a degree of initial uncertainty created by the multidimensional challenge, the experience offered an increased value to the challenge provider and enabled the students to engage in a real multi-perspective transdisciplinary educational experience. We discovered the added value of merging different perspectives and can provide suggestions for future transdisciplinary challenge-based learning.

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