Mindset logo on left, people learning with yellow robot to right

New Insights: Coaching in Transdisciplinary, Experiential, Problem-Focused Learning Concepts, By: Bill Heinrich PhD., Mindset

This week marked the publication of a chapter coauthored by Eleanor Louson, William F. Heinrich (me), Erica J. Lewis, Patrice M. Ludwig, Seán McCarthy, Nick Swayne, and Tatjana Titareva. Our chapter:Coaching in Transdisciplinary, Experiential, Problem-Focused Learning Contexts” appears in a new edited volume Faculty Peer Coaching in Higher Education Opportunities, Explorations, and Research from the Field. Edited by: Kristin N. Rainville, Sacred Heart University, David G. Title, Sacred Heart University, Cynthia G. Desrochers, California State University, Northridge.   

This team has been working as a community of practice focused on helping faculty build compelling and engaging experiential learning into their courses at different institutions. We’ve published and consulted together, working on generalized research, a guide book for faculty, and campus-specific evaluations for interdisciplinary, project based, and experiential courses. 

In the current publication, we argue “Transdisciplinary…can be a highly effective pedagogical model at the undergraduate level, but it requires a significant level of trust among participating instructors…”.  At the same time, our own research shows us how, “transdisciplinary pedagogy requires intensive project- and collaboration-focused teaching methods, coordinating with external stakeholders, and working on issues that are beyond any one discipline’s capacity to solve.” As a bridge between effectiveness and difficulty, we have found Peer Coaching among instructors can successfully address such challenges.  

We position transdisciplinary teaching as an aspiration of our work with faculty teams. In many ways working together on complex problems and in the context of a course helps individual instructors from different disciplines–replete with varied teaching traditions, expectations, and practices—advance through this scale. Faculty members discuss the roles of teachers and learn to shift from content delivery to project manager, to partnership steward, to coach and back. 

All this effort leads to authentic, grounded experiences for students and learning outcomes spanning topical knowledge of the problem/project, disciplinary problem solving, ownership, trust, and confidence in communication. Students tell us that these courses feel more like internships than not, and that they wish more of their courses had this much heart and purpose throughout college.



If you’re interested in these courses, methods, and/or student outcomes, let’s talk about how to co-create compelling, engaging, and rewarding educational experiences, (credit or co-curricular) on your campus! Please reach out at bheinrich@orbiscommunications for more information or to schedule a conversation.