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In liminality: interdisciplinary teams learning through challenges

Sigrid Westad Brandshaug (Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway)
Ela Sjølie (Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 15 June 2020

Issue publication date: 27 April 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to introduce the concept of liminality as a theoretical lens to explore and discuss how challenges, accompanied by frustrations and confusion, can enable significant learning in a teamwork setting. Student team narratives on how they handle challenges they face working to solve real-world problems are used as the basis for the discussion.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a case study using student narratives from an interdisciplinary master course at a Norwegian university.

Findings

We argue that the concept of liminality can support teachers and student teams to understand and handle challenges in ways that enable significant learning and innovation. Practical implications for teachers and facilitators are provided at the end of the paper.

Originality/value

This paper offers new lenses to understand the team- and learning processes in courses where students work with real-world problems. If the teams are able to stay open in the liminality phase it enables significant learning and innovation. This capacity is valuable in a time where teams face complexity and uncertainty is becoming more of a standard than an exception, both in higher education and in working life.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

We greatly acknowledge valuable discussions with Professor Roger Sørheim and Marte Konstad.

Citation

Brandshaug, S.W. and Sjølie, E. (2021), "In liminality: interdisciplinary teams learning through challenges", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 406-419. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-10-2019-0137

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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