Course Description: In this student-driven capstone course, students will collaborate across disciplines to create signature projects that address a significant problem, issue, or question. Prerequisites: Junior Status (students should be at or near the end of their General Education program) (INCO) (4 credits)
Section Description: How did you decide that PSU was the college for you? How did you learn things like which classes to take and when to take them? Each year prospective, admitted, and enrolled students learn about PSU via web-based and face-to-face interactions designed to provide them with the information they need to make good decisions about their college attendance. In this class, we first will learn about the goals and current implementation strategies for PSU’s interactions with incoming students. We will then examine questions such as “what is design?” and “what is GOOD design?” Finally, we will design new experiences and share our ideas with the administrators in charge of them. This course is particularly well-suited to students interested in marketing, media production and use, communication studies, writing, psychology, education, technology design, user interfaces, and human and organizational behavior.
General Education: This course carries INCO status in the General Education program: We live in a world where scholarship is increasingly interdisciplinary. The educated person recognizes the challenges and rewards of drawing connections between fields of knowledge and of applying alternative methods of inquiry to solve problems. Students take a three- or four-credit Integration (INCO) course (either within the major or not) which brings content or methods of inquiry from two or more disciplines or perspectives to bear on a problem or question. The integration course is a General Education capstone course, taken in the junior or senior year. As such it should require substantial, although general, background and a high level of proficiency at most or all of the General Education skills.
Course Goal: Students will articulate, develop, plan, and implement a signature project that addresses the topic of the particular section of the course. A signature project:
Is transdisciplinary: The project integrates knowledge from multiple disciplines and sources to create something new that could not be created without all of them.
Is completed collaboratively: The project is large and complex enough that it requires input and work from more than one person to be successful.
Is student-driven: While faculty, staff, and community partners provide guidance and coaching, student agency and independence move the project forward.
Requires metacognitive reflection: Students reflect on what and how they learn and how their learned knowledge, skills, and dispositions might be transferable to other contexts.
Reaches beyond the walls of the classroom: The work of the project touches the world outside the classroom in some way.
Has an external audience for project results: The results of the project are presented to someone who is outside of the class.
Is completed ethically and respectfully: Work on the project engages internal/external audiences and/or partners with mutual benefit.
This article has a useful explanation of the six stages we will need to engage in over the course of the semester. The six stages are understand, research, sketch, design, implement, and evaluation. Because design is about solving problems, we first need to understand the problem we’re designing a solution for. Early in the semester, I have planned some visits from the PSU staff who are responsible for helping students to enroll at PSU. They will help us understand this problem. We also research how other colleges and universities are engaging with prospective and new students. We will sketch our understandings and research as well as our ideas for new solutions. The sketch is an important design tool and we’ll talk about several kinds of sketches. Using what we’ve learned in other stages, we will design new experiences. We will implement some of our designs and we will evaluate the particular implementations to determine whether they solve the problem or not. These stages are not linear but instead we will weave in and out of the stages as we move through the semester.
The General Education Habits of Mind in This Course
Learning Outcomes (Habits of Mind): Habits of mind are a set of four usual ways of thinking or ways of engaging with the world. These habits of mind equip students to succeed in their lives and work after college. As students take courses within the General Education program, they develop and practice the Habits of Mind in various meaningful contexts. Because this course is the capstone of the General Education program, the Habits of Mind are also the learning outcomes for the course. Students are expected to have reached the summit level of achievement in each of the Habits of Mind by the end of this course. Details of the Habits of Mind can be found here: https://psufys.pressbooks.com/chapter/habits-of-mind/ In this class, students will:
Practice and employ problem-solving strategies
Recognize and integrate multiple perspectives
Regulate their own learning
Signature Work Activities/Characteristics and Learning Outcomes: An x indicates that the student will be practicing the particular learning outcome when engaging in the signature work activity/characteristic.
Articulate, develop, plan, and implement a signature project
Evaluation of your work will include a self-evaluation as well as an evaluation by your group and the instructor. You must fully participate in the signature project to pass the class. Because the signature project is student-driven, much of the evaluation process will be determined by your group. The University’s Fair Grading Policy can be found here: Fair Grading Policy.
The success of this class depends on you taking the work of the class seriously. You will be designing real experiences for real people and presenting your ideas to the PSU staff who can implement those ideas. Your investment in doing your best to design good experiences is critical. Because of this, we will determine how the course will be graded together.
Here’s one idea for how we might grade the course. Everyone in the class will receive an A. We will have a series of assignments that you should complete in order to understand the experiences that PSU already provides to new and potential students and to suggest new and/or modified experiences. We will look at your work together and using your self-evaluation, evaluation from your peers, and evaluation from me, we will determine whether your work is ready to be shared publicly. Using feedback from me, your peers, and yourself, you revise until we agree that your work is ready to be shared. Until your work is ready to be shared, we will consider it incomplete. (By the way, you don’t have to share your work publicly if you don’t want to. You will, however, need to share your work with our intended audience–the PSU staff who implement these experiences.) If you fail to complete the assignments in the class, I will ask you to propose a grade for yourself which I may or may not agree with. Then we’ll have a conversation about the grade you should receive, coming to a decision together.
The reason I suggest this method for grading the course is that I want you to focus on truly learning how to design experiences rather than on the grade you’re going to get. So let’s just assume you’re going to get an A.
This is just a suggestion for how to determine your semester grade. We will be talking about this in class and making the decision together. I will update this section of the syllabus once we have decided.
Attendance Policy: Although much of the work of the class will be completed independently within your group, time in class will be used to support that group work and, therefore, your attendance is critical. If you must miss class, you must communicate with your group and me about your absence. The University’s Excused Absence Policy can be found here: Excused Absence Policy
Academic honesty: Presenting someone else’s work as your own or without attribution is a violation of the University’s Academic Integrity Policy, which can be found here: Academic Integrity Policy.
ADA Statement: Plymouth State University is committed to providing students with documented disabilities equal access to all university programs and facilities. If you think you have a disability requiring accommodations, you should contact Campus Accessibility Services (CAS), located in Speare (603-535-3300) to determine whether you are eligible for such accommodations. Academic accommodations will only be considered for students who have registered with CAS. If you have a Letter of Accommodation for this course from CAS, please provide the instructor with that information privately so that you and the instructor can review those accommodations.