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Cracking the ‘how’ in changing engineering education

Cracking the ‘how’ in changing engineering education

We’ve been quiet, but hard at work, and are now ready to unveil something big: the first of what will be several articles mining the experience of the Pathways  project, with which we worked in 2013-2016 (when the NSF funding ended).

If you’re at the ASEE conference, make time for our presentation Wednesday morning as well as the Entrepreneurship division reception Tuesday evening. Scott Hutcheson will be presenting some of the findings of our research with the universities involved in Pathways. A program of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), Pathways was an effort to create a “tipping point” for the inclusion of innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) in undergraduate engineering education. 50 schools participated (although a somewhat informal “community of practice” persists). In addition to opportunities to learn about effective approaches to I&E, teams from each institution received training and coaching in Strategic Doing as a way to organize their work together.

We invited the schools to be part of follow-up research, and 33 accepted. The research explores questions around team composition, leadership structure, environmental factors, and the use of agile strategy. To tease out the factors that are most critical to this kind of work, 24 of the schools (those that were in the initiative for at least two years) were divided into quartiles according to the number of new collaborations they had completed (eg, a new course, a makerspace, a student IP policy). The research team then compared the highest quartile with the lowest to see if any patterns emerged.

We’ll discuss several of the findings in coming posts, but we’ll start with what we think is one of the biggest findings:

The consistent use of Strategic Doing stood out as one of the strongest predictors of team productivity. The teams in the highest quartile about 8 of the 10 Rules of Strategic Doing consistently, while the teams in the lowest quartile used 2.

You can read a summary of the paper here (the full paper will be available to the public soon).

Photo credit: EpicenterUSA (Flickr)