New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
An educational partnership between a minority-serving community college and a research university has been offering STEM students an eight-week summer internship in sustainable energy systems with the goal of providing students applied research experiences while strengthening community and institutional bonds. In 2015, the interns’ involvement in the successful design, development, and implementation of an innovative testbed for assessment of grid supporting “smart” technology was facilitated by early preparations for self-directed learning. Here, we provide detailed descriptions of a phased pedagogical approach that was instrumental in enabling participants from multidisciplinary and diverse backgrounds to effectively communicate, contribute, and innovate. Heavy scaffolding through a series of controlled yet experiential learning activities targeted key engineering content and process skills, while positioning learners to be efficacious during the research and development phase. Participants formed transitional development teams that restructured based on current project needs; each group member took responsibility for becoming an “expert” in self-prescribed roles: wireless communication protocol, residential electrical wiring, embedded systems design and programming, construction technique, research and characterization of “smart” loads, among others.
This paper presents evidence of a) group interaction and individual participation in practices facilitating the collaborative emergence of innovation and b) learner self-efficacy, which we postulate are correlated. Exit interviews, audio diaries, and a survey instrument assessing interactive engagement in learners were used in analyses of the learning processes and learning outcomes of this case study. Findings point to the importance of allowing participants to identify and take ownership of a discrete set of tasks while expanding skillsets and building peripheral knowledge through facilitated collaboration across domain-specific working groups. This case study culminates in a discussion of four constitutive processes of innovation: choice, challenge, accountability, and cross-disciplinary synergy, as being predictive of the learner’s ability to contribute to collaborative, group-level innovation.
Favaloro, T., & Ball, T., & Graham, Z. W., & Isaacson, M. S. (2016, June), Facilitating Learner Self-efficacy through Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Sustainable Systems Design Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26879
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