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HOW TO INITIATE INTERDISCIPLINARITY IN PROJECT-ORIENTED TEACHING?

M. Podgórska, I. Zdonek

Silesian University of Technology (POLAND)
It is becoming more and more clear that contemporary engineers education requires interdisciplinary approach and combination of knowledge and skills from several disciplines. Project-oriented teaching may be an answer to this requirements. It can lead to extension of students' practical skills in terms of problem solving in interdisciplinary project teams and in cooperation with external business entities. The main idea of this teaching form is increasing the number of graduates who are well prepared for work in a group and projects implementation. However, it is worth to emphasize that proper education in this area requires students to experiment and create projects within a scope going beyond study program. And here the question arises, how to enable students to learn beyond their basic program?

This article presents results of the research that attempts to answer the above question. Particularly, we concentrate on the organizational aspects which are related to project oriented teaching triggering interdisciplinarity. We describe some experiences related to introducing a new form of students education - Project Based Learning (PBL) at the Silesian University of Technology. This new form, as one of parts of the project co-financed from the EU, reshapes in terms of interdisciplinarity the way in which engineers are educated at our university. As the authors of this paper are the project team members involved in organization this form of education at the entire university, our research are based on participant observation. The results show that triggering interdisciplinarity in PBL involves many organizational challenges e.g. establishing individual educational programs for students, creating the way of projects estimation, forming communication and cooperation among supervisors from variety disciplines and students form other faculty, as well as launching financial motivation for supervisors.