Student interdisciplinary practices in a PBL study environment

Anette Lykke Hindhede, Marie Martinussen, Karin Højbjerg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingContribution to book/anthologyResearchpeer-review


Since the Second World War, the number of students in higher education worldwide has dramatically increased. At the same time, the Bologna Process has encouraged more comparable, compatible, and coherent systems of higher education across Europe. Accordingly, in Denmark, more students in master’s programmes come from different fields of study, thus bringing different disciplines into master-level study programmes. This chapter examines the interdisciplinarity that emerges from the interactions of students coming from different disciplines in a PBL programme. What are their achievements and their academic and social experiences? The main theoretical inspiration and concepts for this work are taken from Pierre Bourdieu’s praxeology. The empirical material includes both quantitative data from a year cohort of 138 master’s students and eight qualitative interviews with the same cohort of students. The qualitative analysis indicates that in students’ opinions, their different bachelor degree backgrounds made a difference in a PBL study programme. At the same time, the quantitative analysis shows that there is no significant difference between the grades of university bachelor graduates (UBs) and those of students with a professional bachelor degree (PBs). In their narratives, the UBs expressed rather sceptical attitudes towards the academic performance of PBs during PBL-orientated project work. PBs, on the other hand, were enthusiastic about the contributions UBs could bring to the project work. The latter group took on more leadership roles in the context of project organising and how to follow the perceived academic standards. In conclusion, although both groups of students had distinct and different strategies of practicing interdisciplinarity and PBL, the outcome regarding academic success—in terms of grades—was the same.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFraming Interdisciplinary Learning in Higher Education
Number of pages14
PublisherSpringer VS
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-18841-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes
SeriesInnovation and Change in Professional Education

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