Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Pre-College Engineering Education
Recent developmental psychology research has revealed that current generations of children and young adults appear to be more sheltered from challenging opportunities, and as a result, may be less able to cope with stress and adversity than earlier generations. This trend is particularly problematic, as these generations will likely be unprepared for the demanding and dynamic environment of many jobs when they enter the workforce. Students who have less experience with failure or setbacks are less likely to develop key adaptive skills that are pertinent to a dynamic working environment and a world of open-ended problems. Similar research shows that resilience is one of the key traits of people who are successful in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. Shifting educational instruction to focus on building adaptive skills such as resilience could address this issue. Design-thinking based instruction has shown promise for enabling students to develop resilience by providing opportunities to successfully navigate and overcome adverse situations in a safe environment. In design-thinking based courses, students participate in activities where they have the opportunity to 1) empathize with others, 2) try multiple ideas, 3) work with others, 4) receive constructive feedback, 5) reflect on what they have learned and 6) revise their solutions in order to improve their problem-solving approach. Each of these elements prioritizes adaptive skills over factual knowledge, and 2, 4, 5, and 6 in particular relate to aspects of resilience.
Our current effort aims to examine the effects of a design-thinking course on a particular aspect of student resilience: failure tolerance. A course was designed to expose students to five steps of the design process: empathize, define, iterate, prototype, validate. While engaging in these steps, students can learn to tolerate ambiguity, handle uncertainty, and navigate failure - all skills that make up accepted definitions of resilience. Preliminary pre and post data from a week-long summer version of the course found primarily positive, albeit small, changes in failure tolerance from the beginning to the end of the course for a small group of students. The largest changes were seen for the preferred difficulty factor of failure tolerance, indicating a greater preference for more difficult tasks after completing the course. Students’ negative perceptions of failure also tended to decrease after completing the course. The summer course provided an opportunity to test a modified resilience survey instrument with high school students interested in design, architecture, and engineering studies.
A study is currently in progress with a larger group of students that will examine changes in failure tolerance over the course of a year-long class. Our work-in-progress paper will share details of the summer course design and assessment, including the selection and modification of the resilience instrument. The paper will also briefly describe the research design of the pilot study and potential benefits of using the resilience instrument for course assessment and individualized mentoring of students.
Repchick, K. M., & Frye, L. Q. D., & Barrella, E. (2020, June), WIP: Understanding Impact of a Design-thinking Intervention on Students’ Resilience Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35577
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