C: Strategies


TITLE: Sandbox. Learning. Space.

PRESENTERS: Jeanne Narum, Learning Spaces Collaboratory; Nancy Sturm, The Sextant Group; and Shirley Dugdale, Dugdale Strategy LLC

Sandbox is a metaphor for a space designated for exploring approaches to enhance learning that may not be common in a given institutional context. Sandboxing is a planning strategy intended to be a learning experience for a diverse set of stakeholders. If learning happens best by “practicing” doing, a sandbox affords faculty, students and many others extended opportunity to become comfortable with new pedagogies, technologies and settings that enable changing dynamics in the learning experience. It also provides research opportunities to test how space that accommodates a range of pedagogies can improve assessment in STEM education, to guide future space development.

In sandboxing, we are challenged to ask new questions about how and where learning happens: how can we leverage knowledge from the learning and cognitive sciences, and the work of pioneering agents of change within and beyond our campus? Administrators managing assessment, faculty and curriculum development, facilities and budgets are also learners. A sandbox is transparent in that all stakeholders become aware of how new approaches could work for their community — enhancing learning and institutional distinction.

A sandbox process starts by inviting design of new learning experiences: first engaging inventive faculty and students in envisioning future learning, and then defining pilot settings through rapid prototyping with iterative testing. The process also accelerates change by stimulating strategies to address: course redesign; reduced density and greater flexibility in classrooms; new scheduling systems for bookable-on-demand spaces; and development of the essential ecosystem of integrated support services needed to drive change.


TITLE: Balancing Pathfinding Innovation with Institutional Culture and Constraints for a (Truly) Multidisciplinary Design Initiative

PRESENTERS: Brian E. Gilchrist, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; Alan Taub, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; Albert Shih,University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; Max Shtein, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; Gail Hohner, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; A. Harvey Bell, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; Karen Batzli, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; Daniel I. Johnson, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; and Brian Noble, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Through support from University of Michigan’s Provost and College of Engineering, a college-level initiative was created to focus on expanding significant, multidisciplinary design experiential learning opportunities. This Multidisciplinary Design (MD) Program was intended to bring students together that not only came from all engineering departments, but also from other schools and colleges across the campus. Emphasis was given to projects that were real-world with a real customer or need and generated real, testable products or solutions.

As a college-level program, the MD Program has had the opportunity to innovate and pilot a variety of different initiatives, assess their impact and sustainability, and rapidly revise. This could be done without fully confronting the sometimes significant differences in culture and constraints between engineering departments or between schools/colleges. Yet, any sustainable initiative must ultimately address these differences in a way that keeps the core strengths of any innovative initiative while finding a way to simultaneously push change and respect the culture and constraints across many educational units.

In our presentation, we share our experiences and ideas, both those that have been successful and those that have been less so.


TITLE: Can the Studio/Spiral Model of Technology Training for Theatre Inform Undergraduate STEM Curricula?

PRESENTERS: Rich Dionne, Purdue University

Technology training for theatre — which includes, among other concepts, structural design, mechanical design, construction management, control and automation systems, and computer networking — often follows a signature pedagogy (Schulman) comprised of studio-based project-based learning in a spiral curriculum (Cennamo and Brandt; Harden and Stamper). Successful learners in well-structured programs often become innovators in theatre technology, pushing the boundaries of what is possible on stage and in other live entertainment venues by combining existing technologies in new ways and by working with industrial partners to develop new technologies in STEM fields including networking, robotics, control systems, material science, structures and mechanical engineering.

While these learners rarely explore STEM fields through traditional STEM coursework, they are nevertheless innovators, knowledgeable in STEM fields who continue to expand that knowledge throughout their careers. This suggests there may be much for STEM educators to learn from the studio/spiral curricular approach these students experience, and about the growth mindset (Dweck) that this approach inspires. This paper will examine the studio/spiral curriculum common in theatre technology training as a signature pedagogy, and explore how that pedagogy might be applied to undergraduate STEM education, primarily as a resource for undergraduate instructors developing project-based-learning courses and/or developing new four-year curricular models.


TITLE: The Vertically-Integrated Projects (VIP) Program – Leveraging Faculty Research Interests to Transform Undergraduate STEM Education

PRESENTERS: Edward J. Coyle, Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus; James V. Krogmeier, Purdue University; Randal T. Abler, Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus; Amos Johnson, Morehouse; Stephen Marshall, University of Strathclyde; and Brian Gilchrist, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

The Vertically-Integrated Projects (VIP) Program is an education program that operates in a research and development context. Undergraduate students that join VIP teams earn academic credit for their participation in discovery and design efforts that assist faculty and graduate students with research and development issues in their areas of technical expertise. The teams are multidisciplinary, drawing students from across campus; vertically-integrated, maintaining a mix of sophomores through Ph.D. students each semester; and long-term, allowing each undergraduate student to participate in a project for up to three years. The continuity, technical depth and disciplinary breadth of these teams enable the completion of projects of significant benefit to faculty members’ research programs.

We compare the implementations and success of VIP Programs at five different institutions by a variety of criteria, including origin and type of implementation strategy; number of disciplines involved; type of institution; implementation in the curriculum; resources and support available; growth of the program; grading/assessment strategy and tools; relationship with other discovery and design programs; software tools for program administration; and number of students and faculty involved. While programmatic variations and support have a marked effect on the success of VIP at each institution, its implementation in the curriculum and the ease of scheduling and timetabling teams stand out as two of the most important issues for every VIP site. The common slow pace of curricular change and the variability of curricular implementations across disciplines and institutions lead to specific recommendations and strategies for future growth and dissemination of the VIP Program.