An evaluation of boundary-crossing skill development in a project-based learning course
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Boundary spanning is identified as a critical 21st century skill in different streams of literature such as intercultural communication and diversity in multinational organizations, knowledge management and innovation. Such skills are recognized to provide the competitive advantage for success in multinational companies. Learning at specific boundaries as well the development of respective skills was evaluated in a boundary spanning project-based learning course involving students from two educational institutions in India and one in Switzerland. The course involved the crossing of multiple boundaries including regional and national cultures, functional background (engineering, business and psychology), as well as differing time zones. The participants were solely dependent on digital media for communication. The primary research question to be answered was, if and how boundary-crossing skills can be fostered in a project-based learning setting. And more specifically, how boundary-crossing experiences should be scaffolded to increase the potential of positive learning processes. To answer the research questions a mixed-methods approach was chosen: Including a social network analysis and the qualitative analysis of student diaries. The development of boundary-crossing skills at the individual level was evaluated by focussing on intrapersonal dialogical learning processes to actively deal with the inherent ambiguity at the boundary. At the collective or team level, three differing patterns could be discerned involving different degrees of boundary crossing learning. The research results are used to develop practical implications regarding the scaffolding of positive learning experiences in boundarycrossing project-based learning courses in tertiary education.
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