2018 Institute Workshops & Presentations

Rick Vaz Opening Session


Randy Bass Keynote Address


Charlie Morse Plenary Session

NY Times Article: What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team


Paula Quinn and Rick Vaz Plenary Session


Workshop: Project Based-Learning in the First Year and as a General Education Strategy – Geoff Pfeifer and Derren Rosbach

In this workshop we will share some of the work we have done in our first year Great Problems Seminars program. We will talk about what it is like to work with first year students in a project-based environment (both benefits and challenges), and tools we have developed for scaffolding project work so students gain the skills necessary to work on complex open-ended problems even in their first year. We will also talk about the ways that PBL can be utilized as a general education strategy. Participants will be given the opportunity to collaborate and to think about how to adapt some of our materials to their own courses and environments.

 Workshop materials include:

 Rosbach-Pfeifer Workshop Packet


Workshop: Project-Based Learning Assessment and Feedback – Dominic Golding

This session will explore the variety of approaches that WPI uses to assess student teams and provide them with effective feedback, ranging from formal evaluation instruments to more informal techniques of team assessment and ‘coaching.’  We will also examine briefly other types of assessment that are essential in project-based learning, including the assessment of faculty, project sponsors, and student alumni.  Participants will come away with a set of tools and techniques that they can modify to meet their particular project-based learning needs.

Workshop materials include:

Golding Handout 1

Golding Handout 2

Golding Handout 3


Workshop: Beginning with the End in Mind: Designing Project-Based Learning Experiences to Develop Specific Skills and Abilities – Caitlin Keller and Rick Vaz

Participants will be provided with an overview of backwards curriculum design and key 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.

Workshop materials include:

Employer Priorities List

Essential Project Design Elements Checklist

Gold Standard PBL

PBL Institute Backwards Design Workshop


Workshop: Effective Mindsets for Teaching Information Use in PBL – Laura Robinson and Nick Williams

During this interactive workshop a research librarian and a faculty member team up to lead you through activities illustrating the information challenges you and your students face while engaging in project-based learning. Throughout the session we will discuss research on information use in PBL, share effective mindsets, and provide practical steps to effectively integrate information into project work. You will leave this workshop with tools to adapt and build into your PBL teaching and advising practices, including assignment examples, syllabus language, and in-class activities and worksheets.

Workshop materials include:

Designing a playground

Effective Mindsets for Information Seeking in PBL 2018iPBL

IL Packet IPBL 2018

Institute for Project Based Learning


Workshop: Project-Based Learning in Introductory Science Courses – Marja Bakermans, Natalie Farny, 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.

Workshop materials include:

BB 1002-D-2016 Sample Syllabus

Biodiversity Sample Syllabus

Human Biology-Group Worksheet

Human Biology-Project Rubrics

Human Biology-Project Syllabus

Intro Biochem-Project Overview

Intro Biochem-Project Part 1

Intro Biochem-Project Part 2

Intro Biochem-Project Part 3

Langen etal 2014FEE Large Datasets

Project Design Rubric BIE

Resources for PBL in Introductory Sciences

Sample Syllabus BAHF 2015


Workshop: PBL in the Humanities: Local Context, Active Questioning, and Integrated Learning – Kris Boudreau and Aarti S. Madan

This workshop, taught by faculty from the disciplines of English 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. Participants will learn about projects ranging from short-term assignments to semester-long role-playing games.

Workshop materials include:

Assignment 2 Boudreau

Assignment game development

Assignment identifying sources Boudreau

Interview assignment

PBL in Languages_Assignments

PBL in Languages_Rubrics

PBL in the Writing Classroom

Reflective essay assignment


Workshop: 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.

 Workshop materials include:

2018 Writing Packet Part1

2018 Writing Packet Part2


Workshop: Developing the Entrepreneurial Mindset through Project-Based Learning – Curtis Abel and 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.


Workshop: Using Rubrics in Project Work – Paula Quinn and Terry Rhodes

This session will focus on many of the ways that rubrics can be used with project work: to convey quality standards to students, to evaluate student work, to support student self- and peer-assessment, and to evaluate programs. The session will include discussion of how to construct useful rubrics and the differences between a) using rubrics for purposes of grading and b) scoring with rubrics for broader purposes such as program evaluation. Examples of different types of rubrics will be shared. Rubric construction can be a time-intensive process, so participants will be challenged to consider the costs and benefits of using rubrics in their project work with students.

Workshop materials include:

Quantitative Literacy AAC&U Rubrics

Presentation Rubric Sample

Sample Project Assessment Rubric with LOs

ES2001 Introduction to Materials Science Term B07

IGEA 2018 HandOut 2 Original Assignment instructions

IGEA 2018 HandOut 3 QL CoverSheet

IGEA 2018 HandOut 4 New Assignment instructions_annotated (1)

IGEA 2018 HandOut 5 QL Cover Sheet New Instructions (2)

IGEA 2018 HandOut 6 gradingrubric edit


Workshop: You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: Supporting and Sustaining Project-Based Learning – Chrys Demetry and Kris Wobbe

Guiding students effectively through project work IS time-consuming. Without intentional strategies to keep the workload manageable, instructors may not be able to sustain their use of PBL, and institutional change leaders may face difficulty recruiting more faculty to get involved. In this workshop participants will identify or predict time-intensive aspects of PBL for instructors at their institutions, both during the planning and implementation stage of PBL experiences. We will share examples of strategies used at WPI that draw on students, faculty colleagues, and professional staff to provide various types of support and mitigate the instructor’s workload. Participants will leave with a specific plan for support mechanisms to draw upon or build at their institutions.

Workshop materials include:

Example Rubric-IPBL

Great Problems Seminar PLA Guide

PLA training-Active Learning-Jan2016

PLA training-real world scenarios

PLAethics workshop Aug2015

Sample PLA ad-IPBL

SIPBL support and sustain workshop handout 2018


Workshop: Scaffolding a Project-Based Learning Experience – Rick Vaz

This session will use a particular integrative assignment – a community-based research project – as a participatory exercise to illustrate the design and scaffolding of a student project experience. Participants will work in small teams to respond to a problem statement from a community partner, while the facilitator illustrates approaches for supporting open-ended inquiry, interdisciplinary problem-solving, teamwork, and formative assessment. We’ll then reflect as a group on the educational design and strategies, and how they might be adapted to different curricular situations.

Workshop materials include:

WPI project example and outcomes


Workshop: Student Project Team Formation, Development and Mentoring – Lauren Mathews and Charlie Morse

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.

Workshop materials include:

A Simple Peer Evaluation Form

Initial Self-assessment for Teamwork

Outside Consultation Model

Preliminary Self-evaluation for Discussion

Project Selection Form

Self and Team Evaluation-IQP

Self-Peer Evaluation-Formative Summative

Stages of Group Development


Workshop: Beyond Student Learning: Using Outcomes Data from Projects to Address Program Evaluation and Accreditation Needs – Paula Quinn

Individuals who are responsible for running and evaluating programs or who directly support accreditation efforts could benefit by having access to information that shows how project work impacts student learning. The usefulness of student assessment data will vary, though, depending on how project work is assessed, how those assessment data are handled, and the extent to which program and institutional needs were considered when assessment plans were developed. During this workshop, participants will develop an approach they can use to maximize the value of evidence of student learning through projects to address program evaluation and accreditation needs. A series of questions will be used to help participants identify institutional data needs, identify key stakeholders, and facilitate communication between “project-based learning people” and “program and accreditation people.” Participants will leave the workshop with a list of steps to follow that will be specifically tailored to their institution’s circumstances. This workshop does not focus on how to assess student learning. Instead, it focuses on ways to make the most of student assessment data. Institutions (and individual participants) will benefit most from this workshop if at least two team members attend the workshop together.

Workshop materials include:

Workshop Outcomes for Assessment and Accreditation 2018


Workshop: ePortfolios for Project-Based Learning – J. Elizabeth Clark

ePortfolios have been an important part of the discussion in higher education for the past fifteen years. During that time, our understanding of the purpose, practice, and pedagogy of ePortfolios has shifted increasingly towards student-centered uses of ePortfolios that privilege process, inquiry-based learning, reflection, and multimodal composing. This workshop will provide a brief overview of contemporary uses of ePortfolios in higher education and then transition to specific models of ePortfolios for project-based learning, considering how they might augment the project you have come to WPI to develop. We will also discuss how ePortfolios differ from web-based showcases of final projects. Limited time at the end of the workshop will focus on brainstorming templates and prompts for your project-based ePortfolios. Participants will leave the workshop with an initial template for a project-based ePortfolio and resources to further explore ePortfolios in higher education and in project-based learning.

Workshop materials include:

ePortfolio for Project Based Learning Splash and Link to Full Presentation

eportfolio readings and resources

PBL ePortfolios Planning


Workshop: Working Towards More Equitable Team Dynamics: Mapping Student Assets to Minimize Stereotyping and Task Assignment Bias – Geoff Pfeifer and Lisa Stoddard

Our graduates will enter a diverse workforce and need to be prepared to work with people of differing backgrounds. Studies show that diverse teams are better at solving problems and innovating. Research also shows that bias and stereotyping on teams can eliminate these benefits and reduce student learning. We have developed several tools and modules to help students and faculty identify, manage, and mitigate these issues. Asset mapping and team asset charting are two tools we have used with over 150 students on project teams. Our research shows these tools can improve equitable and effective teamwork by overcoming stereotypes, building student confidence, and minimizing task assignment bias. Workshop participates will engage with these tools on teams as their own students would. They will fill out asset maps and discuss their assets (backgrounds, experiences, interests) with their team members. Team members will then determine who will take on what parts of a sample project based on each member’s assets and areas they want to develop. Participants will also see how we use a mid-project team processing sheet to help student teams assess their teamwork and trouble shoot problem areas. After testing the tools, participants will work to adapt them to their own classes, assignments, and projects.

Workshop materials include:

IPBL18-Asset Map for Workshop

IPBL18-Team Asset Chart for Workshop


Workshop: Supporting Collaboration and Task Management in Student Project Teams – Lorraine Higgins

Managing the complexity of open-ended projects can be quite challenging for students newly freed from the structured guidance of classroom assignments. Such projects are often assigned to student teams with the hope that students can learn from one another and distribute the workload. But collaboration can also introduce additional 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 competing ideas, they may have difficulty articulating a coherent vision to guide their work.  This workshop complements training in team dynamics and diversity awareness, introducing specific literate practices and tools that can help students manage collaborative project work. We’ll review useful collaboration and task management tools, including the use of shared websites and online task schedulers, as well as team writing and discussion activities that can help with goal setting, conflict analysis, and self-assessment). In addition, we’ll discuss how faculty who advise student projects might use self-assessment reports and “Assertion-Evidence” (Alley, 2013) presentations to help students communicate their progress and synthesize a more coherent conceptual framework from the research of individual team members.  Participants will be asked to consider how such tools might support their own students’ collaborative process.

Workshop materials include:

HANDOUTS Task Management in Student Project Teams


Workshop: Integrating STEM and the Humanities and Arts through PBL: Using Principles of Engaged Learning to Design Integrative Projects – Kris Boudreau and John McNeill

This workshop, taught by faculty from Electrical & Computer Engineering and Literature, will guide participants through the process of developing a course project assignment targeted to learning outcomes from both STEM and the humanities. Participants will learn about the principles of engaged student learning, consider some concrete examples of integrative project work and curricular revisions, and explore ways of integrating STEM and humanities learning into course projects of various durations. Working in multidisciplinary teams, they will practice developing an integrative project assignment as part of a course redesign. This workshop will be most useful if all participants arrive having identified a course they’d like to redesign to include an integrative project, along with 1-3 learning outcomes for the course or project.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • identify the four principles of engaged student learning
  • locate important sources discussing the advantages of STEM-humanities integration
  • practice some strategies for designing course projects that integrate STEM and humanities
  • imagine assignments that encourage students to present their project work publicly
  • work with a transdisciplinary team on their home campuses to develop integrative project assignments

Workshop materials include:

Assessment Example Handout (1)

Info literacy module IPBL

Learning Outcomes and Planning for Integrative Assignment

Leydens Lucena Engineering Justice

The Integration of the Humanities and A…Education- Branches from the Same Tree


Workshop: Fostering Project-Based Learning Through Partnerships – Holly Ault, Mike Elmes 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.

Workshop materials include:

IPBL Handout 1

IPBL Handout 2