Asee peer logo

SUSTAIN SLO: Reenergizing Learning

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary First-year Experiences

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1448.1 - 26.1448.29



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Lizabeth T. Schlemer California Polytechnic State University

visit author page

Lizabeth is a professor at Cal Poly, SLO in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. She has been teaching for 22 years and has continued to develop innovative pedagogy such as project based, flipped classroom and competency grading. Through the SUSTAIN SLO learning initiative she and her colleagues have been active researching in transformation in higher education.

visit author page


Kylie Hensley SUSTAIN SLO

visit author page

Kylie graduated from Cal Poly SLO with a B.S. Environmental Engineering in 2012 and now works with SUSTAIN SLO, a community-based learning initiative.

visit author page

author page

Rachel Pittman


Jada Golland SUSTAIN SLO

visit author page

Jada is a 4th year student at Cal Poly concentrating in watershed management/hydrology and minoring in Geographic Information Systems. She first became involved with SUSTAIN SLO as a freshman where she had the opportunity to help build a rainwater harvesting and filtration system for a local community. In her free time, Jada enjoys hiking, biking, baking.

visit author page

Download Paper |


SUSTAIN SLO: Reenergizing LearningAbstract dueAs we look for transformative learning through high impact practices like project-based, multi-disciplinary activities, or first year experience, we find it is difficult torepresent the significant learning that occurs. Of course there is a baselinerequirement of achieving institutional outcomes like retention and grades, but forthose of us involved in these practices we know there is more to be said. This paperuses interviews and qualitative narrative analysis to communicate outcomes fromone such multi-disciplinary, first year experiences. The paper will describe thecontext and components of the SUSTAIN SLO, a multi-disciplinary freshmenexperience. We will also discuss the research done and the results found. In order toresearch the experience 22 student interviews were completed one year after, withthe intent of asking two questions: 1) How is SUSTAIN different than the traditionalcourse experience? and 2) How did SUSTAIN affect you? These interviews wereanalyzed by a team made up of one faculty member, a recent graduate, and fourundergraduate students. This team used qualitative narrative analysis techniques togain insight beyond typical institutional measures.As reported by students in interviews, SUSTAIN SLO was different than traditionalexperiences as it included 1) open assignments and structure, 2) a new look ateducation and learning, 3) different relationship with faculty and peers, 4) arecognition of the importance of space to be yourself and 5) significant collaborationand team building. As for the impact of these differences, students reported 1)increased capacity for personal reflection, 2) new sense of ownership in education,3) a discovery of internal motivation and joy of learning, and 4) deepened friendshipsincluding collaboration and risk taking, which resulted in increased support andresilience. There were also a significant number of negative comments about theexperience and an analysis of this is also included. The paper will conclude with areflection by the undergraduate researchers on their experience in performing theresearch.  

Schlemer, L. T., & Hensley, K., & Pittman, R., & Golland, J. (2015, June), SUSTAIN SLO: Reenergizing Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24785

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015