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Modeling The Student Experience In An Experiential Design Course: Faculty Projects

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Design for Community

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.871.1 - 7.871.9



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Jennifer Kushner

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Jay Martin

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Session 2625

Modeling the Student Experience in an Experiential Design Course: Faculty Projects

Jennifer Kushner, Jay K. Martin University of Wisconsin-Madison

Abstract We teach design courses that are experiential, in that student teams learn about design by engaging in actual design and project engineering with clients from the community. On two different occasions we participated directly in the student experience, with the students, by carrying out a project ourselves. This meant that we carried out all of the same activities as students such as site visits, brainstorming, situation analyses, design reviews, etc. Our purpose for doing this was twofold: To model our teaching, and to create a different dynamic between teachers and learners.

Introduction We are intrigued with a simple question “how do people learn to be engineers?” On the surface the answer to this question is also simple. We might say that people learn to be engineers through study of engineering principles, of scientific laws, and with practice in labs or co-ops. In truth, learning to be an engineer, as with any profession, is much more complex, and requires more than mastery of predetermined content. Learning a profession involves a dynamic relationship between exposure to ideas, people, situations, and practice of the profession itself.

On two different occasions, we have chosen to model the design process by participating in a faculty project alongside students and their projects. We did this for two primary reasons. First, it was our intention to make explicit what we wanted students to learn by giving them an example to serve as a frame of reference. We wanted to set standards for student work by showing them what “good work” looks like. This required that we demonstrate our confidence in the design process by showing we could design something that would represent us well and also meet client needs. In short we wanted to make visible the struggle of learning.

Second, we wanted to create a different dynamic between teachers and learners. Our experience in working towards learner-centered education has demonstrated to us how difficult it is to create shared power in classrooms. Our aim in shifting the dynamic between teachers and learners is rooted in a belief that in order for students to become more self- directed, they must be able to exercise some level of power in the process of learning. By presenting ourselves as “co-learners”, we suggest shared power in the classroom. In addition, research suggests that traditional models of teaching, in which the teacher remains at a distance from both the subject and the students, are not effective for many people. For many learners, memorizing information does not provide sufficient understanding, and it is only through practical application that information can truly be synthesized and understood. Likewise, some students learn best when they are in close relationship to the material being

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition CopyrightÓ 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Kushner, J., & Martin, J. (2002, June), Modeling The Student Experience In An Experiential Design Course: Faculty Projects Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10387

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