Story-driven Learning in Engineering and STEM Classrooms

Story-driven Learning in Engineering and STEM Classrooms

Transformational Storytelling

Have you ever wondered how story might provide impactful ways to engage students in STEM learning?  This project, led by Clark Hochgraf, Associate Professor of Electrical, Computer, and Telecommunications Engineering Technology, Jeanne Christman, Associate Professor of Engineering Technology, and Laura Shackelford, Professor of English at RIT, focuses on developing workshops, classroom modules, and faculty development opportunities. The project team's efforts have been enhanced through collaborations with faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Biomedical Engineering, and James Madison University's School of Engineering.

The RIT team continues to explore "What makes story such a primary way to share experience and build knowledge? What are the secret powers of story - its ability to bring people together and establish visceral connections with a storyteller's experience? How can educators and professionals harness story to engage, sinpire, and motivate in the classroom or professional life?  They also provide easy to adapt classroom assignments and approaches to integrating story-driven methods into existing courses and pedagogies, as covered in a recent "Story Workshop for Instructors" in Engineering, Engineering Technology, and other STEM areas, led by Clark Hochgraf and Laura Shackelford at RIT in January 2023 (workshop participants featured in picture).

They have developed workshops on "Story Work and Reflective e-Portfolio Practices" for RIT-365 facilitators and classrooms; on "Telling Your Story in an Interview" in consultation with Career Services instructors for Third-year Engineering Technology students; and a Workshop on "Storytelling and Student Development Theory" for attendees at the KEEN National Conference: Engineering Unleashed February 4, 2021. They also contributed to "Story Makers: A Quest to Engage, Connect, and Inspire," a KEEN faculty development workshop offered in the summer of 2021.

Many of these activities have been supported by a Kern Family Foundation Grant - "Transforming Engineering Education through Vertically Integrating E-portfolios and Cooperative Educational Experiences to Develop Students' Entrepreneurial Mindset.  Partners and new opportunities to discuss story-driven pedagogies and e-portfolio practices are welcome as they continue to develop and finesse these workshops on storytelling to engage students and build more meaningful connections across disciplines and in specific contexts.