Encouraging interdisciplinary experiences through a unique industry project

Encouraging interdisciplinary experiences through a unique industry project

Industry partnered learning and interdisciplinary collaboration feature in the Associate Degree of Business within the College of Vocational Education’s Business and Enterprise cluster.

The cross-cluster industry project in the Buyer Behaviour course provides students from the Business Enterprise and Creative Industries Clusters the opportunity to collaborate on a project with a real-world client.

Course Coordinator Vanessa Brancatisano conceptualised the project, leveraging her own industry experience as a Senior Account Manager in commercial radio to embed experiences that would help students develop the critical thinking and interpersonal skills they’ll need to succeed in their careers.

Since launching the course in 2019, Vanessa has established industry partnerships with Quit Victoria, Cancer Council, City of Boroondara, TAC, Carl’s Jr, Pattysmiths and more.

The initiative is reflective of RMIT’s signature pedagogy, where students are actively engaged in experiential problem-based learning grounded in authentic industry practices to develop relevant and transferable skills that can be applied to thrive in work and life.

Replicating real-world experiences in the classroom

Business Enterprise students within the Associate Degree in Business program research and strategize solutions for an industry client and then partner with their peers in the Creative Industries Cluster to brief in and project manage the execution of their strategy. 

Working across the Creative Industries Cluster, the Buyer Behaviour students were able to propose graphics, animation or video production for the marketing plan.

Vanessa highlights the opportunity for students “to really focus on that experience and experiential learning that we do so well in VE.”

It becomes almost like a marketing department or mini-agency. We’ve got the Buyer Behaviour students who conduct research, and use the course theory to develop the strategy, then partnering with students in the Creative Cluster to execute creative.

Interdisciplinary experiences broaden student horizons and improve the learning experience

The impacts of the cross-cluster industry project are manifold, with successful outcomes reaching across student results, sentiment and skills development.

Before the implementation of the cross-cluster industry project, just 30% of students were attaining a Distinction grade or above. This has since risen to 61%, with the course pass rate also increasing by 6%, to 88%.

Image of a bar graph showing course grade results Buyer-behaviour course results following the implementation of the cross-cluster industry project

Additionally, students gained valuable skills in critical thinking, the ability to work and communicate across disciplines, and in maintaining beneficial relationships with the client.

“It’s about teamwork and collaboration, stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone because that’s when we really grow” Vanessa said.

“When these students collaborate together, it’s like two lightbulbs shining brighter than just one.”

Recent graduate of the Associate Degree in Business, Anna Loughridge, completed the Buyer-Behaviour course in Semester 1 2023.

During that semester the course partnered with Pattysmiths, a nationwide burger franchise, for a marketing project that spanned over three assessments and saw students partner with peers studying Graphic Design.

As a fairly analytical person myself, to work with someone who is creative was a really unique opportunity and I really enjoyed it.

At the beginning of the course, Vanessa held a discussion with her students on their individual academic goals, standards, and expectations for the course. 

This introductory activity facilitated the formation of cohesive groups, ensuring students could work alongside like-minded peers, all working for the same results.


Screenshot of a powerpoint presentation showing two cars on a blue and white background Example of student pitch to their industry client

Anna described the experience as less transactional than she would have imagined and recognised the requirement to communicate effectively. "Graphic designers can’t see inside my head so I learnt to be very specific to get what we needed for the project" Anna said.

It’s truly collaborative and you learn how to communicate with people from different areas of study, with different focus and perspective.

Youhua Huang, studying an Associate Degree in Graphic Design, worked with Anna’s team on their marketing strategy. 

“It is a good experience for me to be ready for my future career” 

Vanessa noted how the impact of the collaboration across disciplines strengthened the quality of student work. Over the years, students involved with the project have landed internships or employment opportunities with industry partners.

The summoning of excellence amongst our students in Buyer Behaviour is exponential because they're so much more involved.
21 August 2023


21 August 2023


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