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The Rapid Model: Initial Results From Testing a Model to Set Up a Course-Sharing Consortia for STEM Programs at the Graduate Level

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Graduate Studies Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Thomas L. Acker Northern Arizona University

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Dr. Tom Acker is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Northern Arizona University, where he has been since 1996. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University. His duties include teaching and performing research related to energy systems, power system modeling, renewable energy, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics. His research in wind energy relates to and wind flow modeling for distributed wind applications, optimization of off-grid energy systems, wind turbine aerodynamics, and wind integration on the electrical system. He has worked extensively with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the International Energy Agency on grid integration of wind and hydropower technologies. He is a member of the editorial board of Wind Engineering, serves on the board for the North American Wind Energy Academy, and is President of the board for the Western Energy Futures Institute.

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Nena E. Bloom Northern Arizona University

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Dr. Nena Bloom is an evaluator and education researcher at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Northern Arizona University. The primary area of her work is evaluating STEM education projects that focus on opportunities for, and retention of, K-20 students in STEM areas, majors and fields. She also conducts education research focusing on questions about professional development for educators and how educators support student learning in STEM.

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Skilled candidates with graduate training are a critical need in the current wind energy industry (Swift et al., 2019). It is challenging for one institution to provide the depth and breadth of course offerings and educational opportunities required in a multidisciplinary, and rapidly changing field, such as wind energy. “XX Program” is a collaborative NSF-funded effort to respond to this need, by developing and testing a model to establish an expandable, multi-university, multi-disciplinary consortium in STEM graduate education made up of multiple universities across the United States. Ample literature describes the benefits, challenges, and mechanisms of multi-university consortia. Core features of the XX Program consortium are that each member institution is autonomous in offering its own degrees and graduate certificates, and each university offers and share high-quality distance learning courses. In addition to significant recruitment efforts with groups underrepresented in wind energy such as Society of Women Engineers (SWE), distance learning courses will also open up the pool of possible students interested in this field.

The project created a new replicable model for setting up a consortium, called the Rapid model. The Rapid model has 10 activities, modified from the literature of previous successful consortium development. Following this model, the goal was to develop the consortia in 1 year.

Questions guiding this study are: 1. How was the Rapid model used for developing a consortium for STEM graduate education? 2. In what ways was the Rapid model effective for consortia development?

Researchers are using a design and development research process to provide real-time evidence for model pilot-testing during consortia development and, ultimately, for identifying the final model for dissemination. Design-based research (The Design Based Research Collective, 2003) supports the development and continuous improvement of education innovations in complex systems, such as the XX Program consortium, by engaging the program team in iterative cycles of design, implementation, analysis and redesign.

To study the model use for consortia development, data collection includes: 1. documentation of implementation of each element of the Rapid model, including any modifications of the model elements, and 2. annual interviews with faculty and administrators significantly involved in the consortia planning process using a protocol from Offerman (1997). The researchers are using these data to identify if model developers have maintained fidelity to the model or made modifications (Q1). Interviews are used to identify the value of each element of the model (Q1) and faculty and administrator perspective of model effectiveness (Q2). Student outcome data, satisfaction with course experiences from surveys, and student demographics will also contribute to identifying consortia effectiveness (Q2). The outcome of the study is to identify the activities most important in establishing the consortium and address any challenges in real-time, in order to improve the likelihood of success. The results of the project will add to the knowledge base concerning establishment of an expandable university consortium in graduate STEM education.

References Offerman, M.J. (1997). Collaborative degree programs: A facilitational model. Continuing Higher Education Review, 61, 28-55.

Swift, A., Tegen, S., Acker, T., Manwell, J., Pattison, C., and J. McGowan (2019). Graduate and undergraduate university programs in wind energy in the United States. Wind Engineering, 43 (1), 35-46.

The Design-Based Research Collective. (2003). Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 5-8.

Acker, T. L., & Bloom, N. E. (2021, July), The Rapid Model: Initial Results From Testing a Model to Set Up a Course-Sharing Consortia for STEM Programs at the Graduate Level Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37884

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