Project-based courses that requires interdependence increases cross-disciplinary collaboration
The perceived divide between the “soft” and “hard” sciences can often impede collaborations between experts in these fields. However, as self-driving cars, brain-machine interfaces, and biodata devices become more integrated into our daily lives, collaborations between computer scientists and psychologists will become invaluable. Undergraduate education has increasingly begun to focus on preparing students for this interdisciplinary workforce. A majority of the current scholarship has assessed student gains in discipline-specific knowledge or group work skills in interdisciplinary courses. One often neglected component of successful interdisciplinary work; however, is the impact of the perceptions of the value of team members' disciplines. Computer scientists may perceive psychological knowledge as less valid or rigourous, whereas psychologists may think of computer science as rote and reductionistic. These beliefs may lead to implicit resentment, which has been shown in other domains to have strong negative influences on collaboration.
In this project, we describe a semester-long, project-based course in cognitive science. The students are composed of third and fourth year computer science and psychology majors. Students must work in interdisciplinary teams to complete two projects. Key to this course is the fact that the two projects require upper-level expertise in computer science and psychology, respectively. We asses how interdependent group work in this course affects students’ perceptions of the value of the contributions from each other’s majors.