Three-Stages of Learning: Team-based Reflection for Improvement in the Performance of Multidisciplinary Teams

By Mersha Aftab, Mark Bailey, Chris Jeffs and Nicholas Spencer.

Published by The International Journal of Design Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: October 7, 2015 $US5.00

Innovation is rarely the result of a solo act. Indeed, innovation-led organisations are increasingly employing multidisciplinary teams in order to address the most intractable problems. Consequently, universities have developed programmes of study in which students can learn in multidisciplinary teams. One such programme, MA/MSc Multidisciplinary Innovation, at Northumbria University, UK provided the site for this research. This paper explores the subjective factors that influence the individual students’ learning journeys and their impact on team success. The research was conducted by analyzing the performance of multidisciplinary teams involved in different industry-linked projects. This research includes students and academic supervisors as research participants, and uses quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze the data. In the first phase, academic supervisors were interviewed to identify the factors that they thought influenced the performance of multidisciplinary teams. The second phase involved interviewing students, and collection of evidence in support of the factors chosen by the academic supervisors. In the third phase, a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the responses of the students was conducted. The paper proposes a three-stage learning model that engaged students in accelerated learning enabling them to learn the practices of different disciplines. The real value of this learning was seen in the application of these newly acquired practices in the student’s personal context. The paper also identifies the key focus for each of the learning stages, and establishes ‘team based reflection’ as the main ingredient for effective multidisciplinary learning. The paper concludes by considering the implications of these findings for academics planning multidisciplinary learning journeys in the future.

Keywords: Reflective Learning, Multidisciplinary Education, Design Pedagogy, Accelerated Learning

The International Journal of Design Education, Volume 8, Issue 3-4, 2015, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: October 7, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 604.516KB)).

Dr. Mersha Aftab

Lecturer, Faculty of Arts, Design, and Social Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Mr. Mark Bailey

Director, Faculty of Arts, Design, and Social Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK

Dr. Chris Jeffs

Director, Principal Lecturer, Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK

Dr. Nicholas Spencer

Senior Lecturer, Program Leader, Faculty of Arts, Design, and Social Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK