Our team included graduate students from Engineering, Integrative STEM Education, Instructional Design & Technology, Computer Science, and Science & Technology Studies. Working across disciplinary boundaries presented a unique set of challenges for us. As we conducted our research and analysis, we were forced to constantly confront our own biases and understandings. In addition to presenting our findings, we hope that this website reflects some of the struggles and rewards that we encountered in our work.
At times, it was difficult for us to reach consensus. We struggled to refine the details of our project but also to agree on the bigger picture: what was the real purpose of our work? How could we approach a topic as large as “innovative activities at Virginia Tech” in a way that could provide some valuable output? We found that sometimes the only way to work efficiently was to assign tasks to people based on their pre-existing disciplinary skills. But did this defeat the purpose of working in an interdisciplinary team? These were some of the issues that challenged us throughout the semester.
"If multidisciplinarity matters, consider this project a success.
But did we achieve interdisciplinarity? Not quite."
Sarvnaz, Project Team Member
Despite the frustrations of interdisciplinary work, many of us found that the encounter with new viewpoints was ultimately rewarding. For some of the project members, the class was a rare opportunity to interact with those outside of our own disciplines. Although we sometimes wished for more time or resources with which to better integrate our different ideas and approaches, we were able to develop interesting output, and working with the other members of the project team was a unique experience for us all.
"It was interesting to look at innovation from a non-engineering perspective.
I learned that innovation is not just about making things, it's also about society."
Noha, Project Team Member