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Conversational Storytelling: Classroom Teaching through Story Parallels Entrepreneurial Need for Engagement

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Barbara A. Karanian Stanford University

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Barbara A. Karanian, Ph.D. , Lecturer, previously visiting Professor, in the School of Engineering, in the Mechanical Engineering Design Group, makes it possible for teams to find unmet user needs using her proven methods- from a socio-cognitive psychology, art and applied design thinking perspective- that she has developed and refined over the past few decades. In addition, she teaches some of these methods to engineering, design, business, and law students. Barbara uses applied psychology and art in her storytelling methods, to help students and leaders traverse across the iterative stages of a projects - from the early, inspirational stages to reality.
Founder of the Design Entrepreneuring Studio, she is the author of,"Working Connection: The Relational Art of Leadership;" "Entrepreneurial Leadership: A Balancing Act in Engineering and Science;" and "Designing for Social Participation in the Virtual Universe." With her students in ME 378, she co-authored, "The Power of First Moments in Entrepreneurial Storytelling." Barbara makes productive partnerships with industry and creates collaborative teams with members from the areas of engineering, design, psychology and communication. Her recent work examines perceived differences in on-line and off-line lives; and ways to generate creative work environments. She also bridges the intersection of Silicon Valley and Hollywood in a leadership initiative.

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Mona Eskandari Stanford University

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Mona Eskandari is a Ph.D. candidate in computational mechanics and biomechanics at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the finite element and continuum mechanics modeling of the airways in chronic lung disease. She is involved in engineering education through Stanford Design School's educating young STEM thinkers course series and prominently through leading I-Cubed: Inspectors, Inquirers, Inventors!, a non-profit startup summer camp for underrepresented student groups to gain exposure to STEM. Mona is dedicated to educating the next generation of engineers.

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Ville Taajamaa University of Turku

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Ville M. Taajamaa, MSc (Tech), is finalizing his Ph.D studies, which focus in engineering
education reform. The main outcome in the action–based research is the creation of a new model for interdisciplinary engineering education: O-CDIO where emphasis is more in the first
phases of the engineering process: Observe-CDIO compared to traditional engineering
education focusing mainly on problem solving.

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Conversational Storytelling: Classroom teaching through story parallels entrepreneurial need for engagement "l need to be able to tell the story of my new class." In creating a new course or lecture series, student audience engagement is steered by the episodic material the instructor covers via story. Disconnected facts, lack of genuine storyteller interest, along with other storytelling flaws, disengages the audience and hinders the learning experience. The creation of a new classroom is parallel to the entrepreneurial venture: successful start-up entrepreneurial stories iterate, communicate and create memorable experiences with the audience. Teaching holds that same potential through conversational storytelling. Do you wish you could engage easily with someone about what they are going to learn in your class, make your teaching more personable, or even clarify your own academic or start-up experiences during a meeting? Informed by previous work on entrepreneurial first moments and storytelling-based learning, the current work finds that conversational storytelling is the foundation for effortless engagement. Drawing upon proven methods from social-cognitive psychology and design thinking, the use of planned action and reflection alerts participants to the distinction between conversational storytelling and overly rehearsed pitches or presentations. Ambiguous prompts/questions and reflective practice evokes a natural conversation to create a series of stories, easily applied in new settings.

Conversational storytelling is defined by questions and the artful ambiguity of being comfortable with the unknown---specifically by using newly tried, spontaneous, and/or aesthetic approaches that informs understanding and, in turn, readiness for responding to what is next. This paper outlines the relationship between ambiguity in conversational storytelling and engagement for successful new creation through four concerns. These concerns are: (1) The blurring of big picture entrepreneurial level concepts with individual story phenomena, (2) The misleading characterization of a successful storyteller as extraverted, (3) Over-reliance on specific strategies, and (4) Implicit acceptance of current Silicon Valley models.

Karanian, B. A., & Eskandari, M., & Taajamaa, V. (2016, June), Conversational Storytelling: Classroom Teaching through Story Parallels Entrepreneurial Need for Engagement Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26587

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