Effective Practices for High Performing Interdisciplinary Faculty Teams

By E. Perignat, F. Fleming, D. Nicholas, D. King, J. Katz-Buonincontro, P. Gondek


Interdisciplinary teaching by teams of diverse faculty is highly effective in providing students with intellectual tools for creating innovative solutions to 21st century problems. This article examines the effective practices for interdisciplinary teaching used by a five-membered, disciplinarily diverse faculty team with expertise in chemistry, design, education, and business/psychology. The team found convergence, reaching a common understanding of information through discussion, to be more important, and difficult, than conveyance, sharing new information. The influence of convergence and conveyance on the faculty team impacted their team dynamic and their content delivery, encouraging similar characteristics from their students.

A collaborative case study approach, augmented with interviews and meeting notes, provide the qualitative data from which best practices for fostering an effective interdisciplinary faculty team in higher education are identified. The findings reveal the importance of, and processes for, balancing individual and team priorities within the broad areas of convergence and conveyance: recognizing intrinsic rewards, maintaining a shared focus, developing a team mindset, translating ideas across disciplines, and proactively working on good team practices. The article addresses the dearth of research on the effective practices of interdisciplinary teams in higher education concluding with practical examples and strategies for high performing faculty teams.





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