The Benefits of an Interdisciplinary Collaborative Learning Experience: The Student Perspective on Outcomes

By Robert Wellmon, Barbara Gilin, Linda Knauss and Margaret Linn.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Increasingly, human service professionals require knowledge from other disciplines to develop, and implement comprehensive treatment/intervention plans. Collaborative decision-making and information sharing among the helping professions ensures that consideration is given to all of the factors affecting intervention and outcome and is a skill that is most effectively learned during pre-professional training. The Student Interdisciplinary Day project is a series of didactic and group learning experiences designed to promote the pre-requisite skills for effective collaboration. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively examine student perspectives on the benefits of participating in this interdisciplinary learning experience. Graduate students (n=16) from clinical psychology, education, social work and physical therapy were selected to participate in a focus group. From the data, the following themes emerged: (1) increased understanding of the professional roles of other disciplines; (2) better awareness of professional role overlap; (3) an appreciation for the importance of collaboration; (4) understanding that conflict can arise within interdisciplinary teams; (5) realizing the importance of leadership; and (6) the development of increased confidence in one’s ability to collaborate. The findings reveal the importance of including opportunities for interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration in graduate school curriculums.

Keywords: Interprofessional Learning, Interdisciplinary Practice, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Human Service Professions, Collaborative Learning

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 8, pp.15-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.252MB).

Prof. Robert Wellmon

Associate Professor, Institute for Physical Therapy Education, Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Robert Wellmon, PT, PhD,is an Associate Professor in the Institute for Physical Therapy Education and a physical therapist who is board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Neurology. Dr. Wellmon’s entry-level clinical practice degree is from Thomas Jefferson University and he received his MS and PhD in Physical Therapy from Temple University. His professional interests and areas of research involve the examination of factors affecting functional task performance in older adults and patients recovering from stroke and traumatic brain injury, exploring outcome measures used in clinical physical therapy practice, and interprofessional teching and learning.

Prof. Barbara Gilin

Clinical Associate Professor, Center for Social Work Education, Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Barbara Gilin, MSW is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Center for Social Work Education at Widener University and is a licensed clinical social worker. She has participated for 8 years in the planning and implementation of Student Interdisciplinary Day. She has also been a member of an interdisciplinary faculty team that has traveled with students from all four disciplines to other countries in order to compare professional practices and policies with those in the U.S. Her scholarly and professional interests include group process, family counselling, and recovery from trauma.

Prof. Linda Knauss

Associate Professor, Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology, Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Linda K. Knauss, Ph.D., ABPP is an associate professor and director of internship training at the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology at Widener University. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Temple University. Her professional interests include training and supervising psychologists; ethics and professional issues; and child, adolescent, and family therapy.

Prof. Margaret Linn

Associate Professor, Special Education, Center for Education, Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Margaret Inman Linn, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at Widener University where she is the Director of the Master's degree and teacher certification program in special education. In addition, Dr. Linn is a certified school psychologist and a licensed psychologist.


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