Interdisciplinary Learning Through a Connected Classroom


An interdisciplinary course is described whose learning objectives were to build foundational knowledge, collaborative skills, and functional knowledge in an advanced technical area. The `connected-classroom' instructional design stressed active, collaborative learning through a structured combination of World-Wide-Web-based tutorials, lecture supplemented with Socratic dialogue, role-based group assignments, and applied laboratories. A characteristic that makes interdisciplinary courses difficult, namely the mixed student backgrounds, was used to guide collaborative activities and to promote an interconnected view of concepts. Over three semesters, the course format and components were implemented, assessed, and revised based on the assessments. Learning effectiveness was strongly influenced by the course components that addressed disparities in student background and that linked foundational concepts to applications. Senior undergraduates and graduate students from electrical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and civil engineering participated. The topical area was composite materials and sensor systems for smart structures.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Second Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Third Department

Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

Composite Materials and Sensor Systems for Smart Structures; Connected-Classroom; Interconnected View of Concepts; Interdisciplinary approach in education; Smart structures; Web-based instruction--Design

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2004 Tempus Publications, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2004