K-WIDE embraces an interrelated set of mindsets, learning objectives, and pedagogical techniques that are fun and challenging for new and seasoned engineering educators.
- Problem Identification: The ability to identify big societal problems in a noisy environment
- Decomposition: To be able to decompose problems down to something students can tackle
- 50,000 to 5 feet: To navigate from the 50,000-foot level of the scope of the problem to the 5-foot view where the design of a particular device takes place
- Prototyping: To see prototyping as a way to move forward in a design
- Reflection: To reflect on their own process and adapt when necessary
- Growth Mindset: To begin adopting a growth mindset in which students do not see their abilities as fixed
- Communication and Collaboration: To learn to communicate and collaborate across the boundaries of various engineering disciplines
K-WIDE occurs off-semester when students have no other curricular or extra-curricular commitments and all of the college resources are available. The immersive nature facilitates deep learning, connections between concepts and greater emotional attachment to both their success and learning. Formal lecture is minimal, and most instruction is just-in-time in consultation with individuals, teams, and as a larger group.
Critical reflection is an essential element of experiential learning, where specific experiences can be generalized and framed in terms of broader principles that can be extended beyond a particular experience. Significant time is allocated during the program to reflect on (i) summation of the experience, (ii) generalization to broader concepts, (iii) connection between the experience and broader concepts, (iv) application to the current experience, and (v) extension to future situations.
The engineering design process is usually taught deductively - an abstract process is presented first and then assignments guide students through the various steps – but a deductive approach is not how real-world problems are solved. In K-WIDE, design is taught through induction by letting general concepts emerge out of the experience. This student driven approach increases the desire for self-learning and a more natural inclusion of topic that often do not appear in the traditional design process.