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Students As The Key To Unleashing Student Engagement: The Theory, Design, & Launch Of A Scalable, Student Run Learning Community At Xx

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Administering First-Year Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1130.1 - 15.1130.17



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Paper Authors


Russell Korte University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Russell Korte is an assistant professor in Human Resource Education and a Fellow with the iFoundry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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David Goldberg University of Illinois, Urbana

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David E. Goldberg is Jerry S. Dobrovolny Distinguished Professor in Entrepreneurial Engineering and Co-Director of the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education. He is author of Genetic Algorithms in Search, Optimization, and Machine Learning (Addision-Wesley, 1989) and The Entrepreneurial Engineer (Wiley, 2006).

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Students as the Key to Unleashing Student Engagement: The Theory, Design, & Launch of a Scalable, Student-Run Learning Community at XX


Improving engineering education has been a recurring theme throughout the past century. Over the last two decades, calls for reform have intensified from many stakeholders at the global and local levels—including the National Academies, policy makers, faculty, employers, and students.1, 2, 3 Heroic faculty efforts have been broadly mounted and large amounts of money have been spent, but truly transformative change in engineering education remains an elusive goal. For example, a recent volume examines the many efforts made in the creation and execution of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Coalitions and finds that many useful curriculum modifications and pedagogical innovations were implemented, but those efforts, even when successful, remained largely local, failing to diffuse broadly to other institutions.4 Worse, many of the innovations that appeared to be working well reverted to prior form following the expenditure of NSF-provided funds.

Engineering education is a complex system, and the difficulty in transforming it should, in one sense, come as no surprise; however, calls for reform largely prescribe similar solutions such as better emphasis on communications skills and teamwork in classrooms taught with greater pedagogical skill. It is a bit of a puzzle that such widespread agreement has not resulted in more effective and sustainable change and better diffusion and pace of change.

This paper takes the position that an important, largely unrecognized, reason behind the failure for transformation efforts to take hold is that much of the effort—even much of the effort that claims to be student centered—remains inexorably faculty centered. Indeed there is a large literature of student-centered pedagogy, but the fundamental assumption behind much of it is that teachers must behave differently to engage the student. On one level such an assertion is unassailable in that if we wish something to be different, something different must be done, and the faculty member is the natural actor to initiate change; however, it is interesting to note that the move from the expression “sage on the stage” to that of “guide on the side,” a move that is supported by the overwhelming mass of educational literature, continues to treat the faculty member as the primary actor.

The view taken herein is that a key to effective, sustainable, and scalable change is to move firmly from faculty behavioral change to student behavioral change as the primary focus of effort, thereby treating the student as the primary actor in that student’s education. In other words, the view promoted here is that students must behave differently to engage themselves. In particular, the paper considers the theory, design, and launch of a student-run learning community called the iCommunity as part of the XX Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education initiative at the University of XX. Although that effort is in its opening moments,

Korte, R., & Goldberg, D. (2010, June), Students As The Key To Unleashing Student Engagement: The Theory, Design, & Launch Of A Scalable, Student Run Learning Community At Xx Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16473

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