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Tell/Make/Engage: Design Methods Course Introduces Storytelling-based Learning

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division – Design and Entrepreneurship

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1498.1 - 26.1498.13



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Paper Authors


Mona Eskandari Stanford University

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Mona Eskandari is a Ph.D. candidate in computational mechanics and biomechanics at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the finite element and continuum mechanics modeling of the airways in chronic lung disease. She is involved in engineering education through Stanford Design School's educating young STEM thinkers course series and prominently through leading I-Cubed: Inspectors, Inquirers, Inventors!, a non-profit startup summer camp for underrepresented student groups to gain exposure to STEM. Mona is dedicated to educating the next generation of engineers.

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Barbara A. Karanian A. Stanford University

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Barbara A. Karanian, Ph.D. , Lecturer, previously visting Professor, in the School of Engineering, in the Mechanical Engineering Design Group, helps teams discover yet to be satisfied customer needs with her proven methods- from a theoretical perspective of both socio-cognitive psychology and applied design thinking - that she has developed and refined over the past few decades. In addition to helping a team uncover this information, the companies she has worked with eventually have an easily deployable tool kit that they can use again and again on future projects. She also helps students answer these questions when she teaches some of these methods to engineering, design, business, and law students. Her courses use active storytelling and self-reflective observation as one form to help graduate students and leaders traverse across the iterative stages of a project- from the early, inspirational stages to prototyping, to prototyping some more - and to delivery. Barbara likes to paint pictures.

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Ville Mikael Taajamaa University of Turku

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Ville M. Taajamaa, MSc (TECH) is in his fourth year of Ph.D studies focusing on engineering education reform. The main focus in the action based research is to create a new model for global interdisciplinary engineering education: O-CDIO where emphasis is more in the first phases of the engineering process: Observe-CDIO compared to traditional engineering education focusing mainly on problem solving.

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Start-up Storytelling: Vulnerability Amplifies EngagementFinding personal stories is critical for teams to discover yet-to-be satisfied user needs inorder to achieve their mission within any start-up or research group. This is particularlypowerful in situations where a start-up team, or even a research group, has to respond toquickly changing circumstances. Our teaching and research in the Engineering DesignEducation community has not only affirmed that idea but also surfaced a few surprisesabout how teams can unknowingly misunderstand the meaning and intent of a story. Thispaper considers the relationship between active storytelling concepts and individualresponse. The method is taught at a private west coast university in the Department ofMechanical Engineering and applied to company settings. Audience engagement, basedon previous work, is defined and evaluated by variations in response to an ineffective oreffective story delivery. A mixed-method approach uses multiple strategy factors ofsocial influence; along with self-reflective participant observation of student work.Preliminary results show that four, core “rules” (also known as emotional andcommunication messages for success) may in fact lead to misinterpretations and cansidetrack productive engagement for creation and collaboration:a) Repeating for perfection. In fact, people report that they do not find flawlessstorytelling believable;b) Interacting one-on-one within a large audience. The opposite may be true when youapply a “planned spontaneous” and personally unique leadership approach in storytelling;c) Applying a template to tell and memorize one story. In contrast, there are reasons tostart in the middle of the story to find a new and powerful beginning;d) Describing a generic user story so as to only present a stereotype of a persona. In fact,both young and well established entrepreneurs prefer hearing a personal and emotionalstory that invites them to step right into the storyteller’s shoes.Accurate storytelling techniques allow start-up teams to communicate the meaning andintent of their mission while being comfortable feeling uncomfortable. We find thatgenuinely expressed vulnerability in start-up storytelling amplifies engagement.Keyterms: User Interaction, Need-Finding, Storytelling, Start-ups, Empathy,Engagement, Vulnerability, Entrepreneurial Leadership, Social Influence Strategies

Eskandari, M., & Karanian, B. A., & Taajamaa, V. M. (2015, June), Tell/Make/Engage: Design Methods Course Introduces Storytelling-based Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24835

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