What do we want students to get out of real world projects? Introduction Engaging students in real world projects creates opportunities to connect with students’ passions, build connections to the broader community, and for students to see that they can have an impact. Our discussion at February 2022’s Collab Lab focused what we want students to experience on these types of projects, what students, teachers, and partners bring that can help create these experiences, and what stands in the way. Joining the discussion were students from MSOE’s Create Institute and Software Development Lab, and Engineers Without Borders at Marquette University who are involved in real world projects of their own. Start with the end in mind To start our exploration we asked ourselves: “What do we want students to experience as part of their learning?” Exciting challenges Feel comfortable to ask questions Supportive setting Fail forward Open result Experience variety they can have the opportunity to get excited about the learning they can become the expert they can teach the teacher they can become effective collaborators Bring their ideas to life– makes everything more relevant, to feel a sense of empowerment (voice, make/change decisions) experience success from mistakes– students should learn from their answers take classroom knowledge in the abstract to practical application — make everything relevant have a voice in shaping the project — problems don’t have a single answer (broaden scope) listen to other people’s ideas and provide feedback– builds both community and communication skills find something for them to be passionate about and run with it — motivation to advance Understand the “why” behind concepts — knowledge can be transferred, retained Self awareness Provide opportunities new experience further exploration Connect to future experiences Enlightenment/fun/joy Problem solve Build skills Communication – seeing themself in the position Finding purpose Build confidence in their ability (wins) empathetic Have fun feel empowered and inspired to know they can make a difference/real world to feel included, (culturally/gender) to see what they can be to feel safe & heard to feel connected to their community they can learn from failures Engaging “tricky” students ask a lot of questions some are afraid of failure confidence building it’s ok to take a risk For our participants, the big “whys” behind all of this are for students who feel inspired, valued, and heard; to see that they can make a difference in the their community and contribute to the happiness of others. The Assets we bring to learning We continued our discussion by asking about the assets the students, teachers, and community partners bring to the table to support student engagement in real world projects. For students, the key assets noted across our discussion groups are their curiosity, excitement, and perspective. Other assets include their: ideas background knowledge culture/cultural perspective (language and norms) In the case of educators, it is their own passions, ability to facilitate inquiry based work and create the space and structure for this work to happen that are key assets that support student engagement in real world projects. Others include: connections resources justification expectations community partners culture growth mindset dedication empathy communication For community partners, the most noted assets are the expertise, relevance, and perspective they can bring. It’s their view of the world from beyond school which helps make the work relevant to students and gives them an incentive beyond grades to dive deep. Other assets noted in our discussions include: expertise resources awareness different lens support for students/teachers for experiences Role models/mentors Finally, it was noted that all three groups bring their own cultural intersectionalities, which create the opportunity for much richer collaboration and learning. Barriers. A familiar list We wrapped up the discussion with a quick inventory of barriers to engaging students in real world projects. The list should look familiar: too much internet? loss of community/hands on opportunities Switch from micro (classroom) to macro (real world) not enough trust of teachers not enough time/prep Focus on standardized testing Time Inequities/Disadvantage Lack of access to resources & support Money Balance of commitments Out-of-touch leadership Overworked teachers No opportunity to collaborate Student, school, community misalignment Teachers almost anything out of the classroom legislation Community Partners understanding connections to curriculum time for meaningful engagement Students need to balance effort across classes to prevent burnout jobs home responsibilities (cleaning, cooking, siblings, etc.) Acknowledgements Thanks again to MSOE’s STEM Center for hosting Collab Labs this season and to our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion: Chris Beimborn – UW-Milwaukee EnQuest Coordinator and STEM Outreach Manager Abby McGill – Marquette University, Engineers without Borders Anne-Marie Warren, Laura Pizano, Pelumi Ajayi – Student Fellows with MSOE’s Create Institute Hunter Turcin & Amish Verma – Students working with Learn Deep in MSOE’s Software Development Lab Continue the Conversation If you like the topics we select every month and would like to continue the conversation, we invite you to join ‘inspirEd’, an online Collaborative Learning Community. 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