Multidisciplinary Group Composition in the STEAM Classroom

  • John D. SundquistEmail author


This study examines collaborative learning environments with students from a variety of STEAM disciplines in a university-level course on beer and brewing. This course attracts students from a broad spectrum of academic fields of research who engage in multidisciplinary learning projects. For this reason, the course offers an interesting testing ground to examine the effects of heterogeneous or homogeneous grouping of students in collaborative learning environments. In particular, this study poses the question whether small groups that are made up of students who share the same academic major are more or less satisfied and collaborate more or less willingly with each other than those whose majors are diverse. Forty students in 21 different academic fields, including those in engineering, natural and physical sciences, business, and humanities, took part in 2 collaborative wiki projects in either homogeneous or heterogeneous groups based on their majors. Results of a survey with Likert scale and free response questions indicate that there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups, although the heterogeneous groups tend to be slightly more satisfied with their learning experience and the homogeneous groups more willing to collaborate with each other. The implications for these findings are discussed in the context of research on group formation, collaborative learning, and the multidisciplinary nature of STEAM courses.


Collaborative learning Wikis Group formation homogenous and heterogeneous group composition 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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