Wicked Problems: Innovative Solutions

Students work in interdisciplinary teams to develop an idea and business model to address a “wicked problem”. Through a design thinking approach, students then pitch their idea to a panel of judges.

This unit is designed to assist students develop entrepreneurial capabilities, critical thinking, teamwork, collaboration, self-reflection and problem solving skills and develop a design and futures mindset.

Innovative WIL Features

  • Five-day intensive delivery over 2 weeks
  •  University-wide undergraduate and post graduate elective (inter-disciplinary)
  • Industry or community partners
  • Co-designed with students and other academics



  • Motivated and capable students who understand the career relevance of working with industry/community on real problems
  • Engaged industry and community partners who are excited to participate
  • Interdisciplinary aspect increases creativity, teamwork and knowledge sharing for all stakeholders
  • Senior leadership support to enable flexible timetabling 

Unit Impacts & Outcomes

For Students:
working collaboratively on real industry/community problems helps to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills and provides insights into students professional identity.

For industry: In stills confidence that students can articulate and demonstrate self-learning, entrepreneurial capabilities,teamwork and professional identity throughout the process. The design thinking approach offers insights into new ways of working.

For teaching: Provides staff professional development and capability building through industry engagement, innovative learning designs and assessment processes. Develops staff members co-design skills working on real projects with students and industry and  keeps academic staff relevant in practice.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify and discuss different professional perspectives and approaches across project disciplines.
  1. Explain and apply principles and strategies for working in multidisciplinary project teams.
  1. Apply the knowledge and skills of your discipline within multidisciplinary teams
  1. Critically reflect on and discuss your role in projects, the process of working in multidisciplinary teams and the impact on your future practice

Evidencing & Assessment Strategies

1. Assessment strategies include: team reflective blogs, individual reflective videos, infographics, pitches to industry partner. It is important to make explicit to students that reflecting “on” and “through” their practice is a skill required of the graduate knowledge worker and will help them to develop their professional identity.

2. Reflections should happen in teams as well as individually and be facilitated by capable staff/mentors. It is a complicated process and students need practice, guidance and continual prompting. At least 40% of the grades should be allocated to the reflection process

3.  Allow plenty of time for the team reflections as this is a considered process.

5. The process in action and team reflections should be made “visible” through an authentic tangible artefact such as an online community such as Slack to manage the project. Regularly view their progress and reflect in the team.

6. Team reflective assessments can include daily audio recorded debriefs or yarning circles or written reflections. Individual reflections can include blogs, videos and digital communities.

Reflection on Learnings

“The most valuable part for me was collaborating face to face with the academics and the innovation site leads from each university. The workshops at QUT and the ACEN conference were also very valuable. Each innovation site provided resources about their curriculum and during the discussion and feedback panels, advice and resources were shared. This was invaluable professional development in WIL based courses.”