June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
26.1327.1 - 26.1327.8
Reinforcing Communication Skills through Participation in a Team-based Weekly Innovation Challenge.Developing communication skills is an important outcome for accreditation across STEM andnon-STEM disciplines. This paper examines whether communication skills are developed orreinforced through participation in a weekly team based competitive activity in a largeMidwestern private university, the Weekly Innovation Challenge (WIC). The WIC is an extra-curricular outside the classroom activity lasting 60 minutes that encourages students to approachproblems/challenges in an innovative and entrepreneurial manner. The WIC is innovative in acreative sense because students are faced with unusual problems that must be solved withuncommon tools and supplies. The WIC is entrepreneurial because in order to win a givenchallenge students must focus not only on any technical dimensions of their solution but alsoconsider how the solution fits the specific overall WIC objective, the user or client value of theirapproach and how effectively they deliver their solution to WIC judges. Winning teams in eachWIC receive $100.00 per team member.This assessment of the communications learning that occurs in a WIC draws on two sources ofdata: first, written reflections submitted by WIC participants [169 reflections over the past threeyears] and a focus group session conducted at the end of the academic year 2013-2014. Theparticipant reflections were analyzed using a qualitative study approach using axial coding withcodes drawn from communication assessment rubrics provided by the Association of AmericanColleges and Universities (AACU). Six AACU codes were used to examine how studentsexplain and describe their verbal, non-verbal and gesturing interactions with others on their team,how they promote their solution to their team and judges, the depth of their emotionaltransparency, their level of engagement when working with teammates and the clearness ofpurpose in presenting their solutions[s]. In addition, the overall organization of the writtenreflection was evaluated.Strong evidence was found that several aspects of communication skills were either introducedor reinforced during these team based WIC activities.
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