Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Verdugo R., Nussbaum M., Claro M., Sepúlveda M., Escobar B., Rendich R. and Riveros. F. (2013)

Preparing undergraduate computer science students to face intercultural and multidisciplinary scenarios

Revista : IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
Volumen : 56
Número : 1
Páginas : 67-80
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Problem: This teaching case presents the authors’ experience planning, teaching, and evaluating asemester-long course within a computer science undergraduate program; the aim of this course was to developsoft skills that enable students to actively contribute within multicultural and transdisciplinary teams. Researchquestion: How can an undergraduate-level course help computer science students better understand themulticultural and interdisciplinary scenarios that compose today’s working environment? Situating the case: Theliterature review contextualizes the case as part of a broader group of literature concerned with curricular reforms thatreplace the traditional emphasis on memorization of fixed disciplinary knowledge with what have been called “21stCentury Skills.” In addition, it builds a theoretical framework followed by the course that brings together Hofstede’sCultural Theory and Vygotsky’s ideas regarding the social formation of the mind. Methodology: The researchersconducted two studies with a group of 62 students who participated in the course. The first one measured howstudents appropriated the concepts presented in the course and learning outcomes. The second one evaluated thestudents’ perception of the course a year after they had enrolled in it. About the teaching case: Results show thatthe vast majority of students appropriate the concepts of the theoretical framework used throughout the course. Inaddition, most students perceive the courses’ contribution to their professional lives positively—particularly regardingunderstanding cultural and transdisciplinary issues. A small group does not consider a course like the one proposedto be useful. Conclusions: The implication of this teaching case is that the ability to communicate effectively with arange of audiences is something that can be addressed directly by a specifically designed course within a computerscience curriculum (rather than exclusively being a secondary outcome of other courses). The limitations of the studyare that it presents the authors’ own teaching experience (therefore, it is not a third-party report) and that it usespretesting and posttesting as an asessment tool for multicultural and transdisciplinary abilities. Future work wouldshow how similar experiences could be conducted across other cultural scenarios and possible ways in which toengage the small group of students who do not consider the course useful.