Developing technology-assisted multi-disciplinary learning strategies

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
31st International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction and Mining, ISARC 2014 - Proceedings, 2014, pp. 346 - 353
Issue Date:
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The construction industry is multi-disciplinary and collaborative in nature. Project managers are expected to understand the relations, roles and responsibilities in this collaborative working environment. Construction project managers need to be equipped with skills to process and understand the principles of interdisciplinary working. In order to keep pace with industry requirements, it is necessary for universities to teach subjects in tertiary education courses that educate and motivate construction students towards interdisciplinary working. This paper is based on a research project aimed at understanding opportunities and challenges for introducing subjects that require students from different disciplines to work together on an integrated project. In order to teach interdisciplinary working principles to project management students, a new post-graduate subject, Integrated Project Delivery, was introduced in the Master of Project Management at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) as part of a construction sub-major. The subject was designed and teaching materials prepared based on inputs from architecture, engineering and construction management academics. In the teaching of the subject, interdisciplinary student teams were formed based on educational background and professional experience. An (pedagogical) action research approach was adopted to study the challenges and benefits of new ways of learning in line with the UTS learning strategies being adopted by academics. The main finding of this research concluded that project-based learning is very valuable to both students and industry alike as it promotes working on a live project enthusiastically and gaining industry experience in new ways of working adopted by industry. Working in multi-disciplinary teams requires students to respect the other team participants from different backgrounds, inculcating values of team spirit and discouraging adversarial behaviours. Furthermore this research provides insights about student expectations from a post-graduate subject and their experience of a multi-disciplinary working environment. This paper discusses both the successes and the issues faced during the teaching of this subject and suggest future directions for research and effective approaches to implementing interdisciplinary working in an educational environment.
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