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Innovating Interdisciplinarity in Higher Education: Exploring the Impact of a Grassroots Community of Practice

Gutierrez Gonzalez, M. A., Mandeville, C., Edwards, F. ORCID: 0000-0003-0389-193X & Rice, P. (2024). Innovating Interdisciplinarity in Higher Education: Exploring the Impact of a Grassroots Community of Practice. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 12, doi: 10.20343/teachlearninqu.12.11


Skills in interdisciplinary collaboration are required to address many complex problems facing society. As such, interdisciplinarity is a critical competency for students to develop. However, teachers’ effectiveness in teaching interdisciplinarity is often hindered by silo structures within university faculties. To address this in the Experts in Teamwork (EiT) programme, a MSc in a Norwegian university that develops students’ interdisciplinary teamwork skills through projects that address real-world challenges, a community of practice (CoP) evolved among teachers from different EiT classes. Over 20 months, CoP members participated in digital and in-person discussions, lecture exchanges, student and professional conferences, and co-evaluation of student work, with an aim of better understanding interdisciplinarity and approaches for teaching it to students. The success of the CoP in achieving these aims was evaluated through a series of focus groups consisting of members of the CoP. The CoP achieved some success in fostering pedagogical conversations that were transformative for participants’ understanding of interdisciplinarity in their practice. Participants reported that CoP participation influenced their interactions with students, ultimately helping students to develop a better understanding of interdisciplinarity. However, participants reported limitations in the CoP as a professional development resource, citing its newness and the required time commitment. Participants felt that these issues could be addressed via greater institutional support.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Publisher Keywords: interdisciplinarity, communities of practice, teacher development
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
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