QUEST Students Innovate Higher Education

In an effort to transform classroom learning, the Smith School and educational psychologist Dr. Sandra Loughlin founded the Innovo Scholars Consulting Program last year. Over the course of a semester, students partner with a faculty member to redesign and reshape the classroom learning experience, and hopefully, increase long-term learning and student satisfaction in the faculty member’s course. Along the way, the Innovo scholars learn the fundamentals of design thinking, educational psychology, and management consulting as they identify and implement their innovations.

Among this elite group of innovators, three QUEST students have endeavored to enhance the QUEST curriculum in the spirit of continuous improvement: Ben Hsieh (Q22), Bobby Fitzgerald (Q21), and Jason Rubin (Q21). Both Ben and Bobby were Innovo Scholars in Fall 2015, while Jason is taking the course this semester.

Ben’s work focused around innovating QUEST’s introductory BMGT/ENES 190H class, particularly looking at redesigning exams and assessments to better assess QUEST skills and not merely regurgitate information about fishbone diagrams and houses of quality. He wanted students to be able to demonstrate mastery of the skills and information Dr. Armstrong teaches in context, as opposed to filling in a fishbone diagram template because a prompt tells you to.

Ben also worked on designing pre- and post-lecture activities for students, so that they could come to class already prepared for the material of the day, and could reinforce their learning after class. This allows Dr. Armstrong to spend more in-class time doing team activities and engaging students in experiential learning rather than lecturing.

Says Ben, “Class time is more important when spent processing and working with information, not acquiring it.”

Bobby’s efforts were more macro, as he took a high level view of the QUEST program to analyze what skills were taught and what skills were actually gained in each of the three core classes, how their curriculums built on each other, and whether any gaps existed between BMGT/ENES 190H, 390H, and 490H. He also gathered and analyzed student feedback on their QUEST experience, satisfaction, and the two cohort model in order to improve student engagement within the program at-large.

Jason’s current focus is on designing a new way to teach the BMGT/ENES 490H course material (i.e. project management, risk management, data analysis), such that students find it beneficial and make stronger connections between the material and their projects. In addition, he is working on redesigning the final exam for 490H to better evaluate students on their knowledge of the key QUEST concepts and how they apply to their projects. The goal is to develop ways to better align course material and student projects, which can result in higher quality projects and increased student learning.

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