The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Delineating the role of educators and project designers in transdisciplinary Collaborative Problem-Based Learning in an online environment

Franci Cronje, The IIE Vega School (South Africa)

Carla Enslin, The IIE Vega School (South Africa)



Franci Cronje: The IIE Vega School, South Africa [email protected]
Carla Enslin: The IIE Vega School, South Africa [email protected]

KeywordsOnline learning; constructivism; enhancing student engagement; curriculum development; collaborative problem-based learning.


This paper is a qualitative thematic analysis of reflections by six educator panels (30 educators) on a real-world online collaborative project involving 84 student teams (187 students) from six different disciplines and across five countrywide campuses at a Private Higher Education institution in South Africa. The analysis of educator reflections is contextualised against a similar study conducted of student reflections during 2020/2021. We used the same project in 2022; this time to gain useful insights into experiences of educators in Collaborative Problem Based Learning (CPBL) [1]. Problem solving skills [2] such as observation, reasoning, analysing, and creative thinking is essential in the 21st Century. However, online collaboration is important in the post-Covid professional World of Work environment. CPBL in an online environment, therefore, has become essential. We argue that transdisciplinary collaboration for problem-solving and creative solution development requires significant responsibilities of educators. Four key themes emerged from thematically analysing six focus groups of educator panel members. Considering these themes through a constructivist lens [3], a set of interrelated insights emerged: educators who guide and support transdisciplinary CPBL projects must assume significant responsibilities and active roles in: (i) building confidence within individual students and teams while retaining a solid focus on team application of the required skillsets to address complex  challenges; (ii) facilitating discourse to activate higher-order thinking and deep understanding in all relevant disciplines to come into play in order to construct original and meaningful solutions to such challenges; (iii) guiding individual students towards successfully establishing a clear sense of identity and professional self-worth within their transdisciplinary collaborative teams, encouraging the emergence and growth of mutual respect and positive dependency. The paper proposes practical and hopefully useful suggestions to assist project designers and educators in facilitating CPBL involving different disciplines. As a notation, suggestions principally amplify the key insights and are mostly situated in the orientation phase of a collaborative transdisciplinary online project. We believe that the proposal may present workable recommendations for further research into the role of educators and project designers in transdisciplinary CPBL.


[1] Prahani, B.K., Rizki, I.A., Nisa, K., Citra, N.F., Alhusni, H.Z. and Wibowo, F.C., 2022. Implementation of online problem-based learning assisted by digital book with 3D animations to improve student's physics problem-solving skills in magnetic field subject. JOTSE12(2), pp.379-396.

[2] Hendarwati, E., Nurlaela, L., Bachri, B. and Sa'ida, N., 2021. Collaborative Problem based learning integrated with online learning. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET)16(13), pp.29-39.

[3] Allinson, M.E. and Mahon, K., 2022. Modelling transdisciplinary pedagogy: A method for collaborative curriculum design. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice19(3), p.04.

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