Blog by Antoine van den Beemt, 4TU.CEE TU Eindhoven

The third webinar in the series on challenge-based education at the 4TUs focused on challenge-based learning (CBL) in TU/e innovation Space. It followed successful webinars by TU Delft and University of Twente.

On the 14th of April, TU/e CEE leader prof. Birgit Pepin welcomed over 40 participants to the webinar. Prof. Isabelle Reymen, scientific director TU/e innovation Space, introduced them to the innovation Space project Master’s course. This was followed by a report of the research project on interdisciplinarity in CBL, and a plenary discussion presented by dr. Antoine van den Beemt of the Eindhoven School of Education.

CBL in TU/e innovation Space

Both presentations focused on CBL in the context of TU/e innovation Space, that recently won the first Dutch Higher Education Award. Using the TU/e developed instrument CBL-compass, Isabelle Reymen introduced and evaluated the specific characteristics of the Master’s course ‘innovation Space project’. The presentation clarified how students in this project work from a business and entrepreneurial point of view on challenges. These challenges are brought to the table by external stakeholders and concern real-life societal problems.

Learning objectives of the innovation Space

Isabelle explained how students from engineering domains such as chemistry or physics are pushed out of their comfort zones by being forced to think from an entrepreneurial point of view. She also showed how coaches support the students in the process of working towards a viable concept and how the innovation Space offers an inspiring context by facilitating students with materials and spaces.

The presentation was followed by a Q&A with participants, which addressed practical aspects related to organising the course and contact with external stakeholders. Other questions concerned the learning process not only for students, but also for coaches and stakeholders.

Interdisciplinarity in CBL
Antoine van den Beemt presented the results from a study on interdisciplinarity in CBL, which included the ‘innovation Space project’ and other innovation Space courses. Interdisciplinarity was discussed as an integration of disciplines, with team members speaking ‘one language’ as intended end result. In reality it turned out that students more often learned to understand each other’s language, rather than actually developed a shared language. Other issues include the question how staff that is educated in one single discipline can assess interdisciplinary efforts of students. This remains one of the challenging issues for CBL.

The plenary discussion following these two presentations involved the participants perception of CBL, the development of rigorous discipline knowledge, and what kind of characteristics are needed before we can speak of ‘CBL’.

Both presentations and the discussion showed the specific approach of CBL in TU/e, allowing for a bottom-up approach with a variety in characteristics. This variety within departments adds to a local colour of CBL at TU/e.

More information
Want to know more? You can find the full video of both presentations here. Join us for the next session on the 19th of May at WUR.

About the webinar series
4TU.CEE started a new webinar series on challenge-based-education at the 4TUs. Many good inspiring initiatives already exist in curricula. We wish to engage in an open debate about the best ways to implement challenge-based learning at the 4TUs.

The series respectively focuses on:

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