E. Misiūnaitė-Bačiauskienė “Interdisciplinary problem-based learning of students” doctoral dissertation defence

Thesis Defense

Author, Institution: Eglė Misiūnaitė-Bačiauskienė, Kaunas University of Technology

Science area, field of science: Social Sciences, Education, S007

Scientific Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Palmira Jucevičienė (Kaunas University of Technology, Social Sciences, Education, S007).

Dissertation Defence Board of Education Science Field:
Prof. Dr. Brigita Janiūnaitė (Kaunas University of Technology, Social Sciences, Education, S007) – chairwoman
Prof. Dr. Remigijus Bubnys (Šiauliai University, Social Sciences, Education, S007)
Prof. Dr. Liudvika Leišytė (Dortmund University, Germany, Social Sciences, Education, S007)
Prof. Dr. Romualdas Malinauskas (Lithuanian Sports University, Social Sciences, Education, S007)
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gintarė Tautkevičienė (Kaunas University of Technology, Social Sciences, Education, S007)


The doctoral dissertation is available at the libraries of Kaunas University of Technology (Donelaičio 20, Kaunas), Šiauliai University (Vytauto 84, Šiauliai) and Lithuanian Sports University (Sporto 6, Kaunas).Kaunas).


The study aims to answer the following question: what process of students’ problem-based learning allows achieving interdisciplinary understanding. Interdisciplinary problem-based learning is conceptualised as a nonlinear, iterative, spiral and cumulative process, where students acquire a more comprehensive interdisciplinary understanding of a complex problem by applying certain step-by-step tactics of solution. Moreover, a structured approach to disciplinary, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge is justified, quantitative and qualitative levels of knowledge are distinguished.

The multiple case study reveals the structure of the interdisciplinary problem-based learning process and the critical moments of knowledge construction. Two main configurations of interdisciplinary problem-based learning emerge, i.e., disciplined and flexible interdisciplinary problem-based learning. In addition, several modalities of disciplined interdisciplinary problem-based learning are identified: commitment-based and dogmatic problem-based learning as well as authentic and simulated commitment-based interdisciplinary problem-based learning. Problem-solving scenarios that are created by students imply interdisciplinary knowledge of different levels: when (i) isolated unsustainable interdisciplinary links, which are hardly explained by students, are mechanically made and when (ii) integrated understanding of a problem is created, which links multidisciplinary approaches. Summarising, disciplined, commitment-based interdisciplinary problem-based learning is the most favourable learning configuration for the construction of interdisciplinary knowledge. Moreover, interdisciplinary understanding at a qualitative level is a result of consistent group and individual cognitive (as well as social and emotional) efforts, in addition to students’ awareness and authenticity (not imitation). Besides, inflexible epistemological beliefs of group members, methodological conflicts, naive interdisciplinary thinking, subgroup empowerment, and imitation of the interdisciplinary problem-based learning process are the most difficult thresholds to be crossed. Conceptual changes that occur in the process of problem-based learning, on the contrary, activate the construction of interdisciplinary knowledge.

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more or switch them off if you prefer. However, by continuing to use the site without changing settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.
I agree