skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on June 1, 2024

Title: Setting the stage for co-creation: Using workshops to scaffold interdisciplinary research, collaboration, and community building
Co-creation in academe can take multiple forms. In this research, the co-creation focus is on collaboration between faculty and graduate students to develop educational modules. This activity is designed to improve graduate education and prepare students for conducting graduate research. In previous work presented at ASEE 2022, we discussed benefits and challenges of participating in the co-creation process. This current paper focuses on how we took lessons from our first year and transformed them into a structure to better support interdisciplinary research, collaboration, and community building. We will discuss how we supported the process of co-creation by developing a series of workshops to scaffold student learning. Scaffolds are instructional methods and interventions that are designed to foster skill development by allowing for interactions between what students already know and what they have yet to learn. These workshops were designed using the tenets of the gold standard project-based learning (PjBL). The PjBL framework is itself a scaffold that is designed to build research competencies. Specifically, to introduce a challenging problem or question, we created multiple technical overviews of the cyber-physical system theme of interest that would constitute the eventual educational modules. We scaffolded sustained inquiry by developing a workshop using techniques from the Right Question Institute, and also through a workshop about crafting your message for different audiences. To support the PjBL idea of authenticity, we developed a workshop about core values to help students connect personally to their project topics. To further support collaboration and community building, we developed a workshop to introduce ideas of interdisciplinary collaboration, including developing community agreements and recognizing and responding to microaggressions. Periodic reinforcements of these topics were incorporated as students progressed in their co-creation project. We assessed how students applied these topics through student reflections. Scaffolding students’ learning helped to address co-creation challenges that were expressed by our pilot group, including not understanding the goals of the project and not feeling connected to the research. Observational data of the current groups suggests that students have better understanding of the co-creation process and are collaborating more effectively than our pilot group students, and focus group data confirmed these observations. We also collected feedback from students about the workshops to evaluate what is effective about them and what can be improved. Students felt skills taught in the workshops such as how to prioritize research questions, construct messages for specific audiences, and perform literature searches and reviews, were all effective and useful as they worked on their projects. For improvement, they suggested clearer objectives and more workshops that focus on technical aspects of the project work would be helpful.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2105718
NSF-PAR ID:
10426264
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Co-creation in higher education is the process where students collaborate with instructors in designing the curriculum and associated educational material. This can take place in different scenarios, such as integrating co-creation into an ongoing course, modifying a previously taken course, or while creating a new course. In this Work-In-Progress, we investigate training and formative assessment models for preparing graduate students in engineering to participate as co-creators of educational material on an interdisciplinary topic. The topic of cyber-physical systems engineering and product lifecycle management with application to structural health monitoring is considered in this co-creation project. This entails not only topics from different disciplines of civil, computer, electrical and environmental engineering, business, and information sciences, but also humanistic issues of sustainability, environment, ethical and legal concerns in data-driven decision-making that support the control of cyber-physical systems. Aside from the objective of creating modules accessible to students with different levels of disciplinary knowledge, the goal of this research is to investigate if the co-creation process and the resulting modules also promote interest and engagement in interdisciplinary research. A literature survey of effective training approaches for co-creation and associated educational theories is summarized. For students, essential training components include providing (i) opportunities to align their interests, knowledge, skills, and values with the topic presented; (ii) experiential learning on the topic to help develop and enhance critical thinking and question posing skills, and (iii) safe spaces to reflect, voice their opinions, concerns, and suggestions. In this research we investigate the adaption of project-based learning (PjBL) strategies and practices to support (i) and (ii) and focus groups for participatory action research (PAR) as safe spaces for reflection, feedback, and action in item (iii). The co-creation process is assessed through qualitative analysis of data collected through the PjBL activities and PAR focus groups and other qualitative data (i.e., focus group transcripts, interview transcripts, project materials, fieldnotes, etc.). The eventual outcome of the co-creation process will be an on-line course module that is designed to be integrated in existing engineering graduate and undergraduate courses at four different institutions, which includes two state universities and two that are historically black colleges and universities. 
    more » « less
  2. The creation of high-quality curricular materials requires knowledge of curriculum design and a considerable time commitment. Instructors often have limited time to dedicate to the creation of curricular materials. Additionally, the knowledge and skills needed to develop high-quality materials are often not taught to instructors. Furthermore, similar learning material is often prepared by multiple instructors working at separate institutions, leading to unnecessary duplication of effort and inefficiency that can impact quality. To address these problems, we established the HydroLearn platform and associated professional learning experiences for hydrology and water resources instructors. HydroLearn is an online platform for developing and sharing high-quality curricular materials, or learning modules, focused on hydrology and water resources. The HydroLearn team has worked with three cohorts of instructors from around the world who were dedicated to creating high-quality curricular materials to support both their students and the broader community. In order to overcome some of the aforementioned barriers, we tested and revised several different models of professional learning with these cohorts. These models ranged from (a) instructors working individually with periodic guidance from the HydroLearn team, to (b) small groups of instructors collaborating on topics of shared interests guided through an intensive HydroLearn training workshop. We found the following factors to contribute to the success of instructors in creating modules: (1) instructor pairs co-creating modules enhanced the usability and transferability of modules between universities and courses, (2) dedicating an intensive block of time (∼63 h over 9 days) to both learning about and implementing curriculum design principles, (3) implementing structures for continuous feedback throughout that time, (4) designing modules for use in one’s own course, and (5) instituting a peer-review process to refine modules. A comprehensive set of learning modules were produced covering a wide range of topics that target undergraduate and early graduate students, such as: floodplain analysis, hydrologic droughts, remote sensing applications in hydrology, urbanization and stormwater runoff, evapotranspiration, snow and climate, groundwater flow, saltwater intrusion in coastal regions, and stream solute tracers. We share specifics regarding how we structured the professional learning models, as well as lessons learned and challenges faced. 
    more » « less
  3. Broadband infrastructure in urban parks may serve crucial functions including an amenity to boost overall park use and a bridge to propagate WiFi access into contiguous neighborhoods. This project: SCC:PG Park WiFi as a BRIDGE to Community Resilience has developed a new model —Build Resilience through the Internet and Digital Greenspace Exposure, leveraging off-the-shelf WiFi technology, novel algorithms, community assets, and local partnerships to lower greenspace WiFi costs. This interdisciplinary work leverages: computer science, information studies, landscape architecture, and public health. Collaboration methodologies and relational definitions across disciplines are still nascent —especially when paired with civic-engaged, applied research. Student researchers (UG/Grad) are excellent partners in bridging disciplinary barriers and constraints. Their capacity to assimilate multiple frameworks has produced refinements to the project’s theoretical lenses and suggested novel socio-technical methodology improvements. Further, they are excellent ambassadors to community partners and stakeholders. In BRIDGE, we tested two mechanisms to augment student research participation. In both, we leveraged a classic, curriculum-based model named the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability program (PALS). This campus-wide, community-engaged initiative pairs faculty and students with community partners. PALS curates economic, environmental, and social sustainability challenges and scopes projects to customize appropriate coursework that addresses identified challenges. Outcomes include: literature searches, wireframes, and design plans that target solutions to civic problems. Constraints include the short semester timeframe and curriculum-learning-outcome constraints. (1) On BRIDGE, Dr. Kweon executed a semester-based Landscape Architecture PALS 400-level-studio. 18 undergraduates conducted in-class and in-field work to assess community needs and proposed design solutions for future park-wide WiFi. Research topics included: community-park history, neighborhood demographics, case-study analysis, and land-cover characteristics. The students conducted an in-Park, community engagement session —via interactive posterboard surveys, to gain input on what park amenities might be redesigned or added to promote WiFi use. The students then produced seven re-design plans; one included a café/garden, with an eco-corridor that integrated technology with nature. (2) From the classic, curriculum-based PALS model we created a summer-intensive for our five research assistants, to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration in their research tasks and co-analysis of project data products: experimental technical WiFi-setup, community survey results, and stakeholder needs-assessments. Students met weekly with each other and team leadership, exchanged journal articles, and attended joint research events. This model shows promise for integrating students more formally into an interdisciplinary research project. An end-of-intensive focus group highlighted, from the students’ perspective, the pro/cons of this model. Results: In contrasting the two mechanisms, our results include: Model 1 is tried-and-trued and produces standardized, reliable products. However, as work is group based, student independence is limited —to explore topics/themes of interest. Civic groups are typically thrilled with the diversity of action plans produced. Model 2 provides greater independence in student-learning outcomes, fosters interdisciplinary, “dictionary-building” that can be used by the full team, deepens methodological approaches, and allows for student stipend payments. Lessons learned: intensive time frame needed more research team support and ideally should be extended, when possible, over the full project-span. UMD-IRB#1785365-4; NSF-award: 2125526. 
    more » « less
  4. International collaborations for community colleges are important for students who will be competing for employment yet are often overlooked due to the perception that international means expensive. The International Education Initiative (IEI) provides opportunities for international collaboration among community college faculty and students. The IEI is a multi-tiered program that allows different levels of participation and cost for faculty and students through funding from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Program and the French Embassy in the United States. While the main focus is engineering and technology courses, partners have also included business and communications classes, creating a truly interdisciplinary program. Students participating in these programs can expect to have greater cross-cultural maturity and awareness of the wider world, increased confidence in finding future success in the global workforce, and increased ability to deploy 21st Century skills such as technology and teamwork. Faculty participating in the program can expect to have increased confidence and skills in faculty to support students in achieving 21st century skills; increased ability to co-teach and work effectively with and overseas partner, and more motivation and readiness to sustain overseas partnerships and help grow the international program. The Connecticut Collaborative Learning for International Capabilities and Knowledge (CT CLICKs) provides the opportunity for students to receive a global experience as part of a course they are already taking. During the first year of the program, Faculty from Connecticut community colleges partnered with faculty from French Insitituts universitaires de technologie (IUTs), French equivalent of community colleges, to co-teach curriculum modules to their participating classes. The second year added the option of co-facilitating a project between the two classes. All teaching, assignments, and projects were completed through virtual platforms. Several travel opportunities have been provided for student and faculty participants. These have either been through the attendance of international technology bootcamps that were organized by the French Embassy or a partner IUT or through a travel program organized by the IEI. Both travel options include experiences that provide an overview of French engineering and technology education, industry, history, and culture. A faculty recruitment and preparation model has been created to continuously onboard new faculty for the IEI program. The model includes a program overview workshop, partner matching, and curriculum design workshop that all take place virtually. The CT CLICKs program has built steadily and quickly. The number of teachers participating grew from 6 to 29 in the first three years with more than 6 teachers repeating or developing new modules. A total of 334 students have participated in the CT CLICKs program since fall 2017. The number of Connecticut campuses grew from 1 to 8 and overseas partner campuses grew from 2 to 5. Participant survey data shows that the program is continuously improving in helping students gain a better worldview and how to collaborate cross-culturally and helping faculty incorporate international collaboration into their courses. 
    more » « less
  5. International collaborations for community colleges are important for students who will be competing for employment yet are often overlooked due to the perception that international means expensive. The International Education Initiative (IEI) provides opportunities for international collaboration among community college faculty and students. The IEI is a multi-tiered program that allows different levels of participation and cost for faculty and students through funding from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Program and the French Embassy in the United States. While the main focus is engineering and technology courses, partners have also included business and communications classes, creating a truly interdisciplinary program. Students participating in these programs can expect to have greater cross-cultural maturity and awareness of the wider world, increased confidence in finding future success in the global workforce, and increased ability to deploy 21st Century skills such as technology and teamwork. Faculty participating in the program can expect to have increased confidence and skills in faculty to support students in achieving 21st century skills; increased ability to co-teach and work effectively with and overseas partner, and more motivation and readiness to sustain overseas partnerships and help grow the international program. The Connecticut Collaborative Learning for International Capabilities and Knowledge (CT CLICKs) provides the opportunity for students to receive a global experience as part of a course they are already taking. During the first year of the program, Faculty from Connecticut community colleges partnered with faculty from French Insitituts universitaires de technologie (IUTs), French equivalent of community colleges, to co-teach curriculum modules to their participating classes. The second year added the option of co-facilitating a project between the two classes. All teaching, assignments, and projects were completed through virtual platforms. Several travel opportunities have been provided for student and faculty participants. These have either been through the attendance of international technology bootcamps that were organized by the French Embassy or a partner IUT or through a travel program organized by the IEI. Both travel options include experiences that provide an overview of French engineering and technology education, industry, history, and culture. A faculty recruitment and preparation model has been created to continuously onboard new faculty for the IEI program. The model includes a program overview workshop, partner matching, and curriculum design workshop that all take place virtually. The CT CLICKs program has built steadily and quickly. The number of teachers participating grew from 6 to 29 in the first three years with more than 6 teachers repeating or developing new modules. A total of 334 students have participated in the CT CLICKs program since fall 2017. The number of Connecticut campuses grew from 1 to 8 and overseas partner campuses grew from 2 to 5. Participant survey data shows that the program is continuously improving in helping students gain a better worldview and how to collaborate cross-culturally and helping faculty incorporate international collaboration into their courses. 
    more » « less