Paul Skaggs, Industrial Design
The objective of this grant was to strengthen student and faculty understanding and use of innovation. To accomplish this objective this project focused on the development, teaching, and assessment of innovation curriculum.
The following is a report on how the project went.
Evaluation of how well the academic objectives of the proposal were met
The results of this stemming from the academic objectives are described below. The objective is in bold italics, the outcome is in italics.
- Contribute to the growing database of theoretical frameworks and research associated with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum, instruction, and pedagogy.
- Because the SOT (School of Technology) is housed within the college of Engineering and Technology, and because the three professors working on this project have backgrounds and interest in technology and engineering, the research drew upon their research expertise. Notwithstanding, the areas of S (science) and M (mathematics) was not directly studied. This project could have been improved by bringing in additional SME or professors who had background in the S and M areas of STEM. That being said, the curriculum and research completed during this study, have been presented at various conferences and published in proceedings that have furthered an understanding of innovation within STEM as a whole.
- Establish a contemporary baseline of research regarding teaching innovation to technology and engineering university and high school students, and its influence on their innovation abilities and self-efficacy.
- We gathered sufficient data to create a solid understanding of the relative impact teaching innovation to undergraduate and some high school students has. We learned when students are exposed to innovation principles and techniques their innovation “willingness” and “abilities” do increase. We employed a treatment/control methodology, and have evidence of increased understanding and abilities in those students who received our curriculum treatment. We did not study longitudinal impact; nonetheless, noting that innovation can be taught is a important finding. Additionally, we discovered that innovation is not a hereditary characteristics – meaning that although some people believe that being right or left brained is what dictates their creative abilities, we found that by immersing any type of learner into the appropriate context, they will all start to think innovatively.
- Inform STEM educators and stakeholders about the application and potential benefits of complementing current curricula with the implementation of innovation content into science, technology, engineering, and math related courses.
- By presenting our research at various conferences across the national we feel we met this criteria.
- Establish a clear definition of innovation principles, methods, and tools.
- While doing this project/research we found that depending on the area of implementation, innovation is defined differently, especially how it is executing, and measured (i.e., in business, the focus is on entrepreneurship and monetary gains, whereas in industrial design, the focus is on creating novel and useful products for people). Nonetheless, we believe we developed a clear definition of innovation principles, methods, and tools. We believe we have been successful in developing this definition because of the school wide, and even national acceptance of our definition and related models (evidence: accepted publications, and various workshops done for other universities and schools).
- Further develop and promote an innovation assessment that accurately aligns with learning objectives promoting both divergent and convergent thinking.
- The graduate students involved in this study helped meet this criteria by analyzing the breath of innovation and creativity assessments, and by creating an innovation assessment that focused on divergence and convergence. Initial reliability studies were and are being done to further validate the assessment.
- Promote and instruct industry leaders on how innovation can be taught and tested for prior to hire.
- We met with several firms who were interested in our curriculum and assessment. These companies wanted us to train their employees on how to think innovatively, increase their desire and aptitude to create. They also considered using our innovation assessment in screening potential new hires. We need further validity testing before this will be implemented.
- Promote and instruct K-12 educational stakeholders on how innovation curriculum can supplement and complement core curriculum standards (the focus of this will be on student aged 12 and younger – because significant research in the fields of creativity and innovation have shown that students show less creativity as early as junior high. The reason is because there is less tolerance for innovation and creativity in upper education. We will use our findings from the younger students to inform curriculum development for Jr. High and High school courses).
- Although we taught several innovation workshops for K-12 teachers and students, we have not at present studied the lasting impact these workshops have on K-12 curriculum, nor on educational impact in relation to student performance. Intuitively we believe it can and should make a difference, but we recognize for any meaningful changes to happen in K-12 education, we will need additional data. We did however, receive positive feedback from both students and teachers, who reported they loved and found the training very interesting, enjoyable, and helpful. The teachers reported that they were going to try and implement many of the techniques learned in their classes.
Evaluation of the mentoring environment
Three professors were involved in the mentoring environment of this grant: PI-Paul Skaggs, Geoff Wright, and Rick West. All three professors worked directly (i.e., sat as members on the graduate committees for both students) with the two primary graduate students (Tyler Lewis and Jacob Wheadon) who helped direct the research of this study. Jacob and Tyler met with Dr. Wright in bi-weekly meetings, and also acted as teaching assistants for an innovation course taught in the SOT titled TECH 312 Innovation Bootcamp, which helped them receive pertinent and related instruction and mentoring regarding the curriculum development and assessment of the innovation curriculum being using in TECH 312. Additionally, Jacob worked and mentored several undergraduate students on the project as they assisted him in the implementation of his research project (more on this below).
List of students who participated and what academic deliverables they have produced or it is anticipated they will produce
Several undergraduate and graduate students were involved in this project. However, two specific graduate students were integral to this project. Tyler Lewis was a graduate student in the SOT graduate program. One part of his thesis study, and contribution to this MEG research project involved identifying and analyzing all innovation and creativity tests and assessments that currently exist. This was an extensive research assignment that helped meet the demand of one of the intellectual merit and broad impacts of the MEG, as it outlined the type of innovation and creativity tests/assessments being used in industry and academia, and what their goals and learning objectives/outcomes were. Tyler discovered that out of the 80+ assessments and tests he analyzed that there did not exist an assessment that solely focused innovation defined as the combination of divergent and convergent thinking. As part of his research he proposed key characteristics an assessment having a focus on the combination of divergence and convergence would have. His suggestions led to the further work by Jacob Wheadon. Jacob took Tyler’s research and created an innovation assessment that focused on the combination of divergence and convergence. He then did a validity and reliability study by implementing his test in the TECH 312 course (Innovation Bootcamp) here at BYU. Several undergraduates helped him implement and collect and interpret the data. Jacob’s efforts helped to create a missing and important innovation assessment tool, but also indirectly informed a need to further develop innovation curriculum that explicitly has a focus on both divergence and convergence, within a sTEm context. Both Tyler and Jacob were able to publish and present their findings and research at various conferences around the nation – at ITEEA, ASEE, and edMedia. Jacob’s research is also being considered and reviewed for publication in the Journal of Technology Engineering. In addition, Jacob has continued this line of research while pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Purdue.
Description of how the budget was spent
The budget was only spent on research assistant (undergraduate and graduate) student wages, and to offset the costs for student travel to and from various conferences where they presented on the data being developed and collected as part of this study. Both Jacob and Tyler attended a total of four conferences each, and were assisted by one undergraduate at each conference. Monies were also spend on video equipment to document the boot camp experience and some materials to support the boot camp.