2017 Institute Workshops

1) BEGINNING WITH THE END IN MIND: DESIGNING PROJECT-BASED LEARNING EXPERIENCES TO DEVELOP SPECIFIC SKILLS AND ABILITIES- CAITLIN KELLER

Participants will be provided with an overview of backwards design and essential elements of project-based learning.  This session is heavily discussion and activity based, with a focus on identifying specific skills and outcomes and aligning these with assessment and activity options that can be integrated into participants’ own courses and/or curricular designs.

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2) PROJECT-BASED LEARNING AS A FIRST-YEAR AND GENERAL-EDUCATION STRATEGY-GEOFF PFEIFER AND DARREN ROSBACH

Our project-based approach in the first year is designed to cultivate excitement for learning, develop critical thinking, and position students to succeed throughout their remaining time at the university and into their subsequent careers. This workshop introduces participants to the way we do project based courses in the first year and why we believe this is an important and successful strategy. WPI does not have an official general education strategy but these first year courses incorporate similar, if not identical, learning outcomes. We will introduce these along with the types of assignment we use to achieve these outcomes as well as incrementally move students towards a substantial project. We also discuss challenges involved in what many students (and perhaps instructors or administrators) see at first as an unstructured and uncomfortable departure from their past experiences. Come to this workshop prepared to ask questions about our program but also to work on your own. There will be time devoted to developing your own learning outcomes, assignments, activities or any other form of preparation that we might be able to help you with.

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3) INFORMATION USE IN PROJECTS: MOTIVATING STUDENTS TO GO BEYOND GOOGLE- LAURA ROBINSON

Come to this session prepared to eat fun snacks, play with toys, and design a playground!  Throughout the session’s activities you’ll be gaining practical ideas to help address the information challenges facing your students as they engage in the exciting but occasionally daunting process of finding information for their projects.  Students learn quickly through PBL experiences that Google is not going to fulfill all their information needs. They are generally relieved to learn of library resources, efficient ways to find data and government information, how to ethically use nontraditional sources like blogs and videos, and how to find real news that they can use.  This session will help get you into the mindset of a PBL student.  You will leave with tips, assignment examples, and collaboration ideas to enable your students to make the best information decisions both for their projects and for their future academic or professional careers.

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4) PROJECT-BASED LEARNING IN INTRODUCTORY SCIENCE COURSES- MARJA BAKERMANS AND DESTIN HEILMAN

This workshop will examine the design and implementation of PBL-based experiences in introductory science courses. These courses tend to be diverse with respect to student majors and can have much larger enrollments than that typically seen in advanced courses. The workshop will focus on design and implementation with these challenges in mind. We will explore connecting the design of the activity to discipline-specific learning outcomes, and assessing student performance during and after the project. We will share examples of how to scaffold projects in manageable units for students and provide ideas and resources for leveraging other organizations that have project resources. The session will be interactive with some time to engage attendees with similar goals in small groups.

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5) MAKING IT REAL: ACTIVE LEARNING AND PROJECTS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES- JEANINE SKORINKO

We will discuss ways to actively engage students in the scientific study of the social sciences. We will consider and develop: quick projects that can be completed within a class period and out-of-class projects that engage students with theories and research methodologies in the social sciences. We will also consider mechanisms to actively involved students in faculty research, and opportunities that extend beyond campus, such as partnering with local organizations or global/cross-cultural opportunities. Overall, the main goal of the workshop is to develop ways that enable projects to be the main focal point of learning within the social sciences. The presenter will focus a lot on projects within Psychological Science, but as a group we will brainstorm how this can apply to other social sciences.

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6) PROJECT-BASED LEARNING IN THE HUMANITIES- AARTI MADAN AND DAVID SPANAGEL

This workshop, taught by faculty from the disciplines of History and Spanish, will guide participants through the process of developing a course project assignment with significant content and methodology from the humanities. Participants will explore how projects can be designed to include student needs, interests, and knowledge as well as local resources and community needs or opportunities. We will challenge participants to consider different audiences for student work, share concrete examples of classroom activities and out-of-class assignments that infuse key elements of PBL into the humanities, explore ways of integrating humanities and non-humanities subjects through collaborative project experiences, and suggest new instructional approaches available to humanities faculty in their courses.

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7) TEACHING WRITING THROUGH PROJECT-BASED LEARNING- ROB TRAVER

Wouldn’t it be nice if students handed you their written work accompanied with the phrase, “It’s probably not perfect, but I think you’ll like reading this.” And by that they mean the writing is clear, informed, thoughtful, even interesting. To approach this lofty goal we’ll look at writing as a performance, one that can be shaped and improved by models, practice, and feedback. What are those models? What constitutes writing practice? What characterizes productive feedback? We’ll respond to these questions through examples, activities, and discussion based on student work produced in project-based learning courses during the first- and third-year. In the process we’ll examine our own expectations, efforts, and potential to help students write in ways that make reading worthwhile and enjoyable.

8) YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE: USING STUDENT ASSISTANTS- KRIS WOBBE AND SAMANTHA ERVIN 

There is no question that guiding students through project work is time-consuming. Many faculty wonder “How can I support multiple project teams on top of the rest of my workload???” Come find out how WPI faculty routinely teach classes with 12 – 28 project teams. The secret is our use of peer learning assistants (PLA) – other students. Hear from a professor and a PLA about the roles, benefits, and logistics of utilizing PLAs.

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9) DEVELOPING ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET THROUGH PROJECT-BASED LEARNING-  GLENN GAUDETTE 

To continue meeting the educational and learning style needs of students, we have engaged them in developing an entrepreneurial mindset, which focuses on curiosity, connections and creating value to society. The synergy between project-based learning and entrepreneurial minded learning will be reviewed. In addition, an active example of how to incorporate entrepreneurial minded learning into courses and projects will be discussed. Participants will discuss how to add entrepreneurial minded learning activities into their programs through curricular and extra-curricular work.

10) TEAM DYNAMICS, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION: TEACHING STUDENTS STRATEGIES AND TECHNIQUES TO DEVELOP MORE EFFECTIVE AND EQUITABLE RELATIONSHIPS ON TEAMS- GEOFF PFEIFER AND ELISABETH STODDARD 

In this workshop, we review a module that we developed that aims to make students more aware of the existence and impact unconscious bias on teams. Unconscious bias can range from bias against women, students of color, students with disabilities, introverted students, and students with other identities and learning styles. The module also provides students with some tools, strategies, and opportunities to better navigate, discuss, and manage team dynamics to improve team equity and productivity. We will then work with participants to 1) think through contexts in their own courses where unconscious bias may have played a role in problematic student team or partner dynamics, 2) plan how they might modify or incorporate this module into their own course or laboratories, and 3) discuss how teachers can reinforce inequitable team dynamics and/or work to reinforce more equitable relationships on teams and in the classroom.

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11) FEEDBACK AND FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT FOR PROJECT-BASED LEARNING- RICK VAZ 

This session focuses on providing student project teams with guidance and feedback on assignments they complete during their project work.  We will begin by having participants engage in a brief project exercise.  Then we’ll discuss how to scaffold this type of project experience with intermediate assignments, and how formative feedback on those assignments can help students negotiate complex, open-ended project work.  Participants will come away with examples and techniques that they can modify to meet their particular project-based learning needs.

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12) STUDENT PROJECT TEAM FORMATION, DEVELOPMENT, AND MENTORING- CHARLIE MORSE AND LAUREN MATHEWS 

Project-based learning is most often organized within student teams which are then, formally or informally, tasked with figuring out how to best function together. Many course variables can influence how successfully these student teams function including team selection, structured team development exercises and team evaluation models. This interactive workshop will help participants better understand predictable conflicts which can and will emerge and how conflict avoidance is most often at the heart of team dysfunction. Additionally, participants will examine various faculty roles in supporting student team success before, during, and after project based learning experiences.

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13) EVALUATING PROJECT LEARNING OUTCOMES USING VALUE RUBRICS- TERRY RHODES 

This session will focus on the use of rubrics to provide feedback and assessment for quality of student work within as well as across courses that engage students in project-based learning. Participants will explore differences between scoring with rubrics and grading; how to use a rubric to establish reliability among rubric users teaching different courses with different assignments; and apply the VALUE Problem Solving rubric to examples of student work drawn from project-based courses.

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14) FOSTERING CURRICULAR REFORM AND INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE THROUGH PBL- SARABETH GOLDEN, BRUCE MCKINNON, JIM OSTROW,  AND CATHERINE ZEEK 

Projects have long been an essential part of teaching and connected learning at Lasell College, with students doing the work of their professional fields from introductory courses through the internships that every major requires. In designing our new core curriculum, faculty identified project-based learning as a strategy to integrate discipline-based and cross-curricular skills and then set about implementing PBL in key courses. We had all the ingredients: experience with projects and active learning, a connected faculty, and supportive administrators. Implementing meaningful PBL – a gourmet product – required many hands, working collaboratively across disciplines and roles, much like a five-star kitchen during the dinner rush. A panel of faculty and administrators – the chefs – will share process and progress, resources and suggestions from our individual and shared perspectives.

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15) STRATEGIES AND TOOLS FOR TASK AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT- LORRAINE HIGGINS 

Managing the complexity of open-ended projects can be difficult.  In presenting students with such challenging work, most faculty recognize the value of collaboration. Teams comprised of students with diverse backgrounds can draw on a wealth of ideas, and in practical terms, many hands can make for lighter work. But unstructured collaboration in the context of open-ended problem solving can present challenges.  Students may struggle with time management and the division of labor; they may experience difficulty tracking and negotiating conflict. And in the face of information overload and a “divide and conquer” research process, they may have difficulty developing a coherent vision for their project.  This workshop complements training in team dynamics and diversity awareness, introducing specific literate practices and tools that can help students manage collaborative project work. Drawing on the work of Sharon Wolfe (2010), Michael Alley (2013), and others, I discuss the ways faculty might integrate shared websites and online task schedulers; team writing and goal setting activities; process reflections; and assertion-evidence progress reports into team meetings. Workshop participants will consider ways to adapt these tools for their own students’ collaborative projects.

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16) ROLE-PLAYING GAMES AS AN EDUCATIONAL STRATEGY- KRIS BOUDREAU AND JOHN MCNEILL 

This workshop will introduce participants to a role-playing game designed by WPI students and faculty that simulates a “wicked problem” from late nineteenth-century Worcester, MA. Participants will learn about STEM-humanities integration (why it is valuable to students, why it is difficult to deliver) and will then test out a role-playing game that gives equal weight to science, engineering, and the humanities (history, theatre, philosophy, literature). Our workshop will spend some time on student learning outcomes and different assignments designed to teach information literacy, problem definition, negotiations, urban history, and engineering in context (sewage treatment processes of the late 19th-century). Participants will gain access to syllabi, lesson plans, role sheets, and assignments so that they can use all or parts of this game in their own courses. We will also spend some time in small groups discussing how the game might be implemented in their own institutional context.

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17) FOSTERING PROJECT-BASED LEARNING THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS- MIKE ELMES, ALLEN HOFFMAN, AND SCOTT JIUSTO 

Inviting “project sponsors” from outside the classroom to challenge students with a real, interesting, non-trivial problem to address can often enhance the learning experience for students and provide value to sponsors. This worksheet poses questions for program developers to consider when thinking about if and how to work with project sponsors, whether that be the campus facilities department, a local government agency, a small non-profit organization, an international company, etc. The worksheet is designed to be used flexibly and adapted to fit the particular needs of any given program.

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18) EPORTFOLIOS FOR PROJECT-BASED LEARNING- J ELIZABETH CLARK 

This workshop will introduce electronic student portfolios, commonly referred to as ePortfolios, in the context of integrative and project based learning. What do ePortfolios look like in a classroom context? In an integrative, cross-course context? In a program? As a capstone assignment for graduation? Teams will analyze ePortfolio models to consider how the ePortfolio can be framed as a developmental approach to project based learning or as a capstone signature work product. We will explore scaffolded, collaborative, and reflective activities at the center of effective ePortfolio pedagogy. We will consider various ePortfolio models and implementation at a diverse range of campuses. We will discuss also key elements to building successful ePortfolios and common pitfalls to avoid.

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RANDY BASS KEYNOTE

PAULA QUINN AND RICK VAZ PLENARY SESSION

CHARLES MORSE PLENARY SESSION 

2017 ACTION PLAN TEMPLATE