Transdisciplinarity as a Learning Challenge: Student Experiences and Outcomes in an Innovative Course on Wearable and Collaborative Robotics

IEEE Transactions on Education(2022)

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Contribution: This study provides evidence for the benefit of short online courses for the transdisciplinary competence development of graduate students. It shows the significant challenges students face while learning, and provides instructional recommendations to improve students' learning quality and professionalism. Background: Developing wearable and collaborative robots require industry collaboration and transdisciplinary competence. Industry's involvement in long-term programs is becoming infeasible, and the nature of transdisciplinary learning has not been explored to inform instructional practices. Intended Outcomes: This study aimed to provide instructional recommendations based on an in-depth examination of a diverse group of graduate students' learning and teamwork experiences as well as outcomes in a 5-day online transdisciplinary course. Application Design: Thirty-one graduate students of engineering, industrial design, and health fields from four countries participated in online mixed-discipline instructional sessions and teams to address a real industry challenge. A mixed-methods approach was used to examine students' experiences and learning outcomes based on a competence measure, session participation data, student journal entries, team progress reports, team elaboration visuals, and final team presentations. Findings: Students' knowledge of industrial design, medical considerations, ethics and standards, effective teamwork, and self-regulated learning were increased. Students' high motivation helped them deal with the challenges involved. Daily student journals, team reports, and visual elaboration tools were found to be beneficial for determining the challenges and learning quality. The observed student progress within five days is promising, making it worthwhile to further explore the benefits of short online courses for increasing graduates' readiness and establishing university-industry collaborations in education.
Challenge-based instruction,graduate students,industry partnership,self-regulated learning,skills gap,synthesizing,teamwork,transdisciplinary
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