From forming to performing: team development for enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration between design and engineering students using design thinking


INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN EDUCATION, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10798-022-09736-3
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, Compendex, Design & Applied Arts Index, EBSCO Education Source, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), INSPEC, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Interdisciplinary, Collaboration, Design, Engineering, Teamwork, Design thinking, QUALITATIVE RESEARCH, EDUCATION, CONFLICT


This article aims to expand our knowledge on interdisciplinary design education by focusing on team development, which has remained a less explored aspect of interdisciplinary collaboration so far. An interdisciplinary design studio course, Collaborative Design, for food engineering and industrial design students in higher education provides the research context. The empirical basis of the paper comes from interviews with students on their experiences of interdisciplinary collaboration in the course, and the educator's observation notes. Drawing on these data, this article critically reflects on how and to what extent the teaching materials, methods and strategies incorporated into the course design guided and supported students' transition through the four stages of becoming a performing interdisciplinary team. The article concludes with four suggestions for design educators. First, encountering new ways of thinking, talking and doing that make sense for both disciplines engages students in interdisciplinary collaboration. Second, humour and positive social relations play an important role in team success in all stages of team development. Third, using the first weeks of the course to reveal the disciplinary differences and potential issues that would lead to conflicts through class discussions and warm-up activities facilitates a smooth transition from forming to norming. Fourth, adequate representation of each discipline should be ensured both in the design problem and solution, and among the tutors.