During the summer of 2016, the authors of this proposal developed, taught, and assessed an experimental course in an integrated design studio format. As the course was supported with funding from the KEEN initiative of the Kern Family Foundation, one of our goals was to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in our students. Students met seven hours a day and completed authentic design tasks. The course integrated objectives and content from three first year courses--introduction to design, rhetoric and composition, and graphical communication--normally taught separately. The studio was based on a sequence of three major projects: reverse engineering a child’s toy, developing an ethnography after visiting an engineering consulting firm, and developing adaptive toys for children with disabilities. Students’ client for the last assignment was Reach Services, a local non-profit organization that maintains a library of toys adapted for users with disabilities. Reach Services provides “comprehensive services to individuals and families of all ages facing a wide spectrum of challenges” across the categories of disability (cognitive, emotional, physical, and language-related).
One approach that we used for assessment of entrepreneurial thinking in our students was to explicitly introduce them to “the three Cs” of promoting curiosity, making connections, and creating value, as described on the KEEN website. We then, at the conclusion of each of the three major assignments, asked students to reflect on how that assignment addressed each of the Cs; this was completely open-ended reflection with no direction provided by the instructors. In addition, a weekly survey was developed to gain feedback on student and faculty perceptions. The survey identified tasks within the categories of opportunity, design, and impact. For example, a task within opportunity is “investigate the market.” For each task, students and faculty were asked to rank the degree to which each was achieved (high, medium, low, and none) during the week. Results were gathered and tabulated. In this paper, we will share the results of both forms of assessment, including summarizing the student responses, comparing and contrasting responses among the instructors, and between the instructors and the students. We will offer conclusions about the extent to which the design studio format encouraged entrepreneurial thinking among entering students.
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