Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Interactions and collaboration in interdisciplinary teams undertaking project work in higher education
    Miceli, Lucia ( 2019)
    This study investigates the interactions and collaboration that occur in interdisciplinary teams brought together to undertake project work in a higher educational setting. The aim of the study is to understand whether teams interact to collaborate across project stages to develop project solutions together. The study was conducted at a subject or unit level within a school of design in an Australian university using a qualitative case study approach. The focus was on the processes and interactions of four teams, all of which were undertaking the same project with the same tutor. Data were collected from a number of sources within each team, including pre project interviews with students and tutor, team Facebook transcripts, self reflection journals and assessment results. These data sets were triangulated for the analysis. The iterative analysis identified themes common across teams as well as variations unique to each team. The study found that three key factors, team leadership, emotional intelligence and curriculum development, consistently influence interpersonal interactions and collaboration in interdisciplinary teams. The findings indicate that the leadership role is critical and that the knowledge and personality of the individual who performs this role have the potential to influence the level of team interaction and to guide opportunities for collaborative engagement in the design thinking process. The research presented in this thesis suggests that leaders who are supportive and have the emotional intelligence to recognise and respect the individual value of team members are more likely to lead teams that interact collaboratively in design education. Conversely, a lack of discipline knowledge and low levels of emotional intelligence at the leader level limit the teams potential to interact collaboratively across all stages of the design process. These findings provide significant guidance for educators using interdisciplinary teams in problem based learning.