New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
The civil engineering programs at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RH) and Gonzaga University (GU) have been seeking to understand how to best facilitate capstone projects in collaboration with students at other institutes. We have the following questions – • How beneficial is it for student teams to spend time together in person to understand their cultural differences and to develop a team rapport? • How beneficial is it for student teams to visit the site in person and get to know the community that will benefit from their project design? • Are the costs (time, travel safety, funding) associated with student and mentor travel to support inter-collaborative international projects acceptable when compared to the benefits? We agreed to support two project teams of four students each between our two institutes. Each team of four students were comprised of two from GU and two from RH. One project was located near RH and the other near GU. Our programs supported student and mentor travel to the sites so that the teams came to know each other face-to-face. An assessment plan was devised and implemented with the help of experts at RH. Some of the assessment is part of a larger program that will be reported later. This paper reports the findings from focus groups and interviews of the participants.
We have concluded that • Inter-collaborative senior project experiences provide opportunities for students to learn in ways that more traditional senior projects do not. They positively impact not only the students on the inter-collaborative teams, but also their friends and colleagues who are watching them. • Inter-collaborative experiences provide opportunities for faculty mentors and coaches to learn about other programs and also in broadened empathy for others and appreciation for challenges in engineering designs in other parts of the world. • Domestic inter-collaborative projects will enhance student learning, despite less cultural differences. Cost of domestic collaborations can be high, especially if they are not in the same region. • The cost of inter-collaborative senior projects may be too high to become the norm for all senior design teams in a program. Commitment of faculty members at both institutes is crucial to the success of these kinds of arrangements.
We believe there may be ways to gain the learning experienced by these senior design teams at less cost. This could include inter-collaborative projects with a lesser scope or shorter duration, or perhaps formation of a cooperative of universities participating in inter-collaborative project work independent on its own schedule, independent of the restrictions of any single institute. The results of this study seem to confirm these projects should not be abandoned and we should work to acquire more information to better understand the benefits in learning through intercollaborative projects.
Sutterer, K. G., & Niezgoda, S., & Aidoo, J. (2016, June), Inter-Collaborative Learning in Capstone Design: How Do We Optimize Costs and Benefits? Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25436
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