To Withdraw, Investigate, Negotiate Or Integrate? Students' Coping Strategies With Disorienting Dilemmas In Interdisciplinary Project Courses

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Conference article in proceedings
Date
2023
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Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
111
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Book of Proceedings for the 51st Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education
Abstract
In today's rapidly changing and increasingly interconnected world, engineering educators are required to implement active pedagogical approaches to support students' interdisciplinary problem-solving processes. However, interdisciplinary and experiential learning may evoke situations where students question their past learnings and even existing values, beliefs, or assumptions. Our study examined the emergence of “disorienting dilemmas”, a central concept to transformative learning theory, and students' experiences in coping with them in engineering education. We interviewed ten students from two interdisciplinary project courses at School of Engineering in Aalto University, Finland, and conducted thematic analysis to identify the types of disorienting dilemmas and the coping strategies that students employed. Our study found that students experienced disorienting dilemmas related to self-beliefs, approaches to real-world challenges, teamwork, and disciplinary differences. To cope with these dilemmas, we identified four key strategies that reflected different levels of cognitive-behavioral responses: withdrawing, investigating, negotiating, and integrating. Our study contributes to transformative learning theory by extending the understanding of disorienting dilemmas in the context of interdisciplinary project-based education. We also provide practical implications for engineering educators seeking to develop students' competencies to effectively address complex challenges in working life. Effective interventions, such as critical reflection, open discussion, and resolving conflicting perspectives, can help students navigate disorienting dilemmas and enhance their interdisciplinary and transformative learning. Future research can explore how students' team characteristics may affect the emergence of coping strategies identified, as well as investigate the impact of scaffolding on students' learning outcomes.
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Feng , X , Sundman , J , Aarnio , H , Taka , M , Keskinen , M & Varis , O 2023 , To Withdraw, Investigate, Negotiate Or Integrate? Students' Coping Strategies With Disorienting Dilemmas In Interdisciplinary Project Courses . in G Reilly , M Murphy , B V Nagy & H-M Jarvinen (eds) , SEFI 2023 - 51st Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education : Engineering Education for Sustainability, Proceedings . Société européenne pour la formation des ingénieurs , pp. 425-435 , Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education , Dublin , Ireland , 10/09/2023 . https://doi.org/10.21427/ATAM-G013