The difference Strategic Doing makes in engineering education

The Purdue Agile Strategy Lab is out with a new paper today, presenting some of the findings of their research with the universities involved in the Pathways 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, from 2013 until 2016 (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.

As a part of their “Hacking Engineering” initiative, Lab staff 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.

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. Lab associate director Scott Hutcheson will be presenting a paper at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference today; you can read a summary of the paper here (full paper available here).

Photo credit: EpicenterUSA (Flickr)

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Liz Nilsen