S9-IC3-2 - Innovators, Learners, and Surveyors: Clustering Students in an Innovation-Based Learning Course

3. Research Full Paper
Lauren Singelmann1 , Enrique Alvarez1, Ellen Swartz1, Mary Pearson1, Ryan Striker1, Dan Ewert1
1 North Dakota State University College of Engineering

This full research paper aims to better understand how students create and innovate. As technology and the world around us rapidly evolve, engineers must rise to meet the needs of a future that we might not be able to even imagine yet. In order to prepare engineering students to meet future needs, it is imperative that they are given opportunities to grow in their technical abilities, but also their creativity and critical thinking. However, these skills can be difficult to teach and assess because they can manifest differently in all students. Therefore, this work aims to better understand how students approach open-ended problems, specifically in an upper level engineering course. In order to keep track of their progress and demonstrate their learning, all students uploaded self-created learning objectives and corresponding deliverables to an online platform. Clustering algorithms were then applied to the data and four clusters emerged: Innovators, Learners, Surveyors, and Surface Level. These clusters were then defined in the context of the Cynefin Framework, Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning, and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. By observing which students fell into each of the clusters, how they moved amongst the clusters, and key words associated with each cluster, we were able to better understand how students approach the process of innovation.