Project-based learning, a pedagogical strategy that engages students in defining and understanding a problem or opportunity, developing potential solutions to address the problem/opportunity, and effectively communicating suggested solutions, has many benefits. For example, when done well, it incorporates all of the characteristics of high-impact learning experiences. It engages students in real-world problems and thus helps students see the relevance of what they are learning, regardless of discipline. It can be an excellent approach to help students realize multiple Profiles of Learning for Undergraduate Success. And finally, students often refer to projects as seminal experiences when looking back on their educational experience.
IUPUI already does a lot of project-based learning throughout the curriculum. However, these experiences are not connected, and while we are doing many projects across disciplines, these projects are not connected throughout a curriculum or plan of study.
To address this, the Institute for Engaged Learning has created the Project-Based Learning Lab to support faculty efforts to infuse andscaffold project-based learningacross an entire degree program, beginning with general education and gateway courses, progressing through 200- and 300- level courses, and culminating in the major's capstone course/experience. The goal of this curricular effort is to ensure that IUPUI students may participate in high-quality, meaningful and sustained collaborative, project- and team-based learning experiences. By participating in multiple project-based learning experiences within an entire degree program, we are helping our students build valuable transferable skills, preparing them to communicate, innovate, solve problems, and contribute to local and global communities.
The PBL Lab consists of a team of faculty fellows who identify and share best practices related to student learning and engagement in PBL courses; offer informal workshops and seminars for faculty and staff on campus; champion and elevate PBL efforts on our campus; and work in their own departments and academic units to embed PBL into their own curriculum.
During the 2021-2022 Academic Year, the PBL Lab Fellows focused on making strategic changes to their courses to align with the key design standards of PBL courses. After teaching with these changes in 2021-2022, each faculty member submitted their course for approval in Experiential and Applied Learning Record, which provides students and employers with verification of applied and experiential learning achievements. In addition to the work in their own course, PBL fellows serve as champions for PBL in their respective units, meeting with faculty to identify 200, 300, and 400-level class within each unit that utilize PBL. The PBL lab fellows are also working on developing a PBL Taxonomy to accompany other high impact practice taxonomies already published by the Institute for Engaged Learning. Finally, the PBL lab is developing professional development content on IU Expand to assist faculty members who wish to adopt PBL in their classroom.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies Adjunct Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Adjunct Associate Professor of Africana Studies Department of Religious Studies School of Liberal Arts
Project Summary: As part of the Department of Religious Studies, Kelly and her colleagues engage students in various forms of project-based learning (PBL) within the curriculum. Many of this project-based learning occurs in a community context, where students interact with members of differing religious groups. These experiences allow students to collect data themselves and learn directly from individuals with firsthand knowledge. The Department of Religious Studies offers a wide range of opportunity to infuse and scaffold PBL effectively. Kelly hopes to incorporate PBL in a more intentional manner to build a solid foundation for student learning.
Assistant Professor Co-Coordinator of Foundation Studies Herron School of Art + Design
Project Summary: Gurkan is an interdisciplinary artist and designer who works with a variety of mediums. As a part of the Visual Communication Design Program, he investigates the relationship between creativity and play using educational games, lectures, and workshops. Additionally, he identifies how games affect our creative process and emphasizes the relationship between creativity, complex problem solving, and critical thinking. In his courses, he implements “learning by doing” principles, to engage his students in meaningful ways. Creating, sharing, and developing are the main concepts incorporated in the curriculum.
Senior Lecturer in English Department of English, Writing Program School of Liberal Arts
Project Summary: Debbie integrates project-based learning in first and second-year writing and literature courses. Students are empowered to target specific audience/s, then develop and compose innovative projects that engage those audience/s. Student voice and choice are at the center of the curriculum, and their writing projects are shared through web-accessible ePortfolios. In W231 Professional Writing Skills, students strategize, compose, and design formal recommendation reports for their clients through scaffolded assignments. Students share their reports through micro-ePortfolios in the IEL Showcase. Debbie has two main goals for her work with IEL. First, she aims to support faculty work with PBL by helping folks make connections and find the resources to integrate their ideas into their curriculum. Secondly, she intends to develop a campus-wide database where students and faculty can strategically search for community-client projects from the pool of W231 recommendation report ideas. This researched-and-ready project pool will streamline and simplify the way IUPUI faculty and students identify real-world capstone projects and team assignments.
Professor of Tourism, Event & Sport Management Director of Sports Innovation Institute Department of Tourism, Event & Sport Management School of Health and Human Sciences
Project Summary: David incorporates project-based learning into his senior capstone course in sport management and will be designing a three-course pathway that promotes a consistent thread of PBL for students in the Department of Tourism, Event, and Sport Management. TESM students will engage in PBL experiences that prepare them for completing high impact work for community and industry partners that make a difference in the TESM field and best prepare them for success in the industry.
Nancy Marie Robertson
Associate Professor of History and Philanthropic Studies Co-Director of the History Graduate Program Adjunct Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Faculty of the University Graduate School Department of History School of Liberal Arts
Project Summary: Nancy Robertson’s work with students has been carried out through multiple appointments at IUPUI for more than two decades. During this time, one of her main goals as an instructor has been to promote engaged learning in addition to providing students with opportunities to be mentored in research. Nancy is dedicated to IEL’s commitment to equitable access to High Impact Practices (HIPs) to support student learning, engagement, and success. Project-based learning is a learning structure that is an important dimension of Nancy’s work and instruction, and she hopes to incorporate a more solidified version of PBL within her department in both the sophomore and capstone seminars.
Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs School of Public and Environmental Affairs Paul H. O’Neill School at IUPUI
Project Summary: As Executive Associate Dean for the O’Neill School, Tom actively supported the IEL goals of creating equitable access to experiential, applied, integrative learning opportunities for all students. He strongly believes deep learning is active and involves giving students agency to design and direct using project-based learning. PBL inherently places the student as an active agent in the learning process, which has been shown to enhance learning, retention, and success. Tom implements high impact practices to deepen the student engagement. In recent years, Tom moved away from the standard lecture-based approaches and hopes to continue this movement not only for his own courses, but throughout O’Neill IUPUI programs.
Kelly Van Busum
Lecturer of Computer and Information Science Faculty Adviser for Women in Computer Science Club Department of Computer and Information Science School of Science
Project Summary: Kelly is devoted to problem-based learning in every course she teaches. As a lecturer of Computer and Information Science, she has found the principles of problem-based learning as an effective way to teach computer science. She identifies three main benefits of PBL in computing: differentiation, improved diversity and retention, and active learning. PBL naturally allows for differentiation in the curriculum with respect to preparation, interests, and learning styles. Active learning is an integral component of her instruction style and effectiveness. The applicability of PBL allows students to recognize the importance of the material and increase engagement. Kelly focuses on hands-on learning in her instruction to fully engage her students in PBL.
Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Law and Management Indiana University Bicentennial Professor Faculty Chair of Kelly-Indianapolis Undergraduate Program Kelly Honors Coordinator Kelly School of Business
Project Summary: Charlotte implements project-based learning in her two undergraduate courses. Through her years of teaching these experiential classes, her students consistently evaluate project-based learning courses as rewarding and beneficial because they incorporate real-world, experiential projects that foster lifelong learning; these PBL experiences help students identify interesting career paths. Charlotte has three main goals as a PBL Fellow. First, she wants to contribute to the Institute for Engaged Learning’s current efforts to identify and create best practices to facilitate the development of additional project-based courses at the Kelly School of Business. Secondly, she aims to enhance the offering of more project-based classroom exercises and courses on the IUPUI campus. Finally, she intends to publish the body of work related to project-based learning on the IUPUI campus.
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