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Investigating the competencies and learning relations of doctoral students in online interdisciplinary training

Boek - Dissertatie

Interdisciplinary education has been promoted as essential in health education internationally. Interdisciplinary education involves educators and learners from two or more disciplines who jointly create and foster a collaborative learning environment. Audiological rehabilitation (AR) is an example of a healthcare field that requires interdisciplinary education. AR addresses the limitations and restrictions in communication, functional health and well-being caused by hearing impairment (HI). To improve AR, expertise from multiple disciplines are needed, including audiology, acoustics, speech-language pathology, education, engineering, linguistics, neurosciences, psychology, cognition, otolaryngology, etc. In order to prepare professionals who come from different disciplines related to AR to be able to collaborate, interdisciplinary education has been advocated by scholars, institutions and associations. The overall aim of this current research is to facilitate interdisciplinary education for AR, with the ultimate goal to improve AR for persons with HI. A review of existing interdisciplinary programs in AR and other fields underscores the complexity of interdisciplinary education. The complexity is presented in the delivery forms, pedagogical demands, evaluation, and implementation challenges for interdisciplinary programs. Lack of theoretical underpinning is reported a major critique of the existing interdisciplinary programs. Underpinned by theories of behaviourism and social constructivism, the current doctoral research focuses on interdisciplinary competencies and learning relations in interdisciplinary education in AR. From a behaviourist perspective, interdisciplinary education should be competency-based, and it is, therefore, important to define the interdisciplinary competencies to guide the design and evaluation of interdisciplinary programs. From a social constructivism perspective, the social interactions of participants are key to understanding the process of interdisciplinary learning. Learning relations provide a perspective to understand the social interactions between the participants. We conducted two studies to define the interdisciplinary competencies and one study to investigate learning relations during online interdisciplinary training in AR. In the first study, we conducted a systematic review to identify the main interdisciplinary competencies from the fields of medicine, sciences & engineering, social sciences and humanities. The systematic database search and quality assessment resulted in 15 included publications. Using content analysis, we analysed these publications and identified five main interdisciplinary competency themes on their frequency of occurrence in these publications: communication, attitudes & values, teamwork, roles & responsibilities, and knowledge integration. The results provide a basis to consider when developing interdisciplinary programs involving a wide scope of disciplines such as AR. The critical appraisal of the selected publications suggests exploring empirical approaches to identify interdisciplinary competencies and structuring interdisciplinary competencies in levels. In the second study, we employed a modified Delphi method to derive a consensus on an interdisciplinary competency framework regarding a holistic, interdisciplinary approach for AR. In the first round, 27 experts rated an initial list of generic interdisciplinary competencies and proposed specific knowledge areas for AR through an online survey. In the second round, 22 of the 27 experts reconsidered their answers in light of the group answers of the first round through another online survey. Using the percentage of agreement to define consensus, we developed a competency framework consisting of 21 generic interdisciplinary competencies grouped into five domains and nine specific competencies (knowledge areas) in three clusters. Suggestions for the implementation of the generic competencies in interdisciplinary programs were identified. This study reveals insights into the interdisciplinary competencies that are unique for AR. The framework is useful for educators in developing interdisciplinary programs as well as for professionals in considering their lifelong training needs in AR. In the third study, we examined learning relations of knowledge transfer (KT) and knowledge integration (KI) of doctoral students during a seven month online interdisciplinary training in AR. KT and KI are two important learning relations in interdisciplinary education. We employed a mixed approach combining longitudinal social network analysis (SNA) and qualitative analysis. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to triangulate the SNA findings. SNA results show that participants had significantly more KT relations than KI during the training period. The experience of working in the same group could predict KT relations but to a lesser degree KI. Qualitative results show that challenges of online settings, the design of the training modules, and student involvement were three major themes of participants' perspectives on KT and KI relations. The practical implications indicate design principles for interdisciplinary training in terms of distinguishing KT and KI, group strategies, and promoting KI. The present thesis contributes to improving interdisciplinary education in AR especially in defining learning objectives as well as enhancing learning processes. We expect this doctoral research to promote dialogue, critique and innovation in the research of interdisciplinary education in AR as well as in other interdisciplinary fields.
Jaar van publicatie:2019