Bridging Academic Disciplines with Interdisciplinary Project-based Learning Challenges and Opportunities

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Melissa Warr
Richard E. West


This article describes the implementation of an interdisciplinary design studio as a means to teach creative problem-solving through project-based learning.  "Learning and Innovation Skills" has been designated as a core skill that students need to be successful in today's world, and project-based learning is one approach to helping students develop these skills.  After describing the early genesis and development of the interdisciplinary design studio, the article describes results of initial research into the students’ experiences in studio courses.  Students described courses as flexible and reported high levels of motivation stemming from the authenticity of the problems. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the studio, some students described deepening disciplinary skills while at the same time being exposed to cross-disciplinary skills.  They believed the courses helped develop interdisciplinary collaboration, creativity, and communication skills.

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Author Biographies

Melissa Warr, Brigham Young University and Arizona State University

Melissa Warr is a doctoral candidate in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Her research blends teacher education, design, creativity, and technology. She is currently exploring design perspectives on teachers’ professional learning and identity, and addressing educational challenges through multi-stakeholder co-design. She is also a violinist and regularly performs with religious and community groups. Her scholarship is available on her personal website at

Richard E. West, Brigham Young University

Dr. Richard E. West (@richardewest on twitter) is an associate professor in the Instructional Psychology and Technology department at Brigham Young University. He teaches courses in instructional technology, learning theory, academic research and writing, creativity and innovation, and product/program evaluation. His research focuses on how to create learning environments that prepare students for the 21st century, including designing learning environments that foster group creativity through design thinking, utilizing microcredentials and open badges to promote competency learning, and technologies to develop online learning communities.  His scholarship is available on his personal website at and at