June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.250.1 - 14.250.13
A four-university collaboration has received National Science Foundation (NSF) Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) funding for a three-year project with two primary goals: 1) to develop a database of reliable and valid measures for assessing attainment of teamwork skills and ethical awareness in undergraduate students enrolled in multidisciplinary project based, design projects, and 2) to identify and describe ‘best practices’ from across these institutions that improve the achievement of learning objectives and thereby increase program quality. Example learning objectives from one course are described as follows: “Students enrolled in these project courses will experience and demonstrate an understanding of ‘best practices’ in the following five areas: 1) The “idea to implementation” process, 2) written, oral and graphical communications, 3) teamwork, and leadership, 4) professional and ethical behavior, 5) the entrepreneurial mindset.”1 Each of the partner schools has similar learning objectives and collectively, we have agreed to focus on two: 1) teamwork and, 2) ethical awareness.
The partner universities are the Illinois Institute of Technology, Lehigh University, Michigan Technological University, and Purdue University. This collaborative effort started September 1, 2008 and runs through August 31, 2011. All four universities engaged in this project have developed nationally and internationally recognized experiential learning courses that engage undergraduate students in real-world projects that due to projects’ size and scope, require a multidisciplinary team. These common characteristics provide a diverse test bed to investigate and validate new pedagogies in STEM education.
An acknowledged driving force in this effort is the requirements for accreditation as prescribed by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), in particular Criterion III and IV.2 Based on recent success with the accreditation process, the four partnering schools are encouraged to continue this development.
This is the first of several progress reports that the collaborators will present in the hope of demonstrating progress, disseminating results and soliciting feedback from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) educators. This report describes our project goals, the experiential learning environments, the assessment of experiential learning, the overall project plan, our progress to date and the next steps.
Two primary project goals are to develop measurement tools to 1) assess teamwork and ethics awareness and 2) best practices in experiential, multidisciplinary team projects. These can be broken down as follows: 1a) to develop reliable and valid measures for assessing teamwork, 1b) to develop reliable and valid measures for assessing ethical awareness, 2a) to identify and describe best practices to achieve the learning objectives in these courses, 2b) to apply and continuously improve these best practices at all four institutions to ensure quality.
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