General Card #676
A Vertically Integrated Portfolio Process to Foster Entrepreneurial Mindset Within a BME Undergraduate Curriculum
The purpose of this card is to present an overview of the structure and implementation of this unique vertically integrated, story-centric portfolio process
Session Title: ENT Division Technical Session: EM Across the Curriculum II
Paper Number: 28757
In order to foster entrepreneurial mindset development throughout the undergraduate experience, the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech has created a vertically integrated portfolio process centered around entrepreneurial mindset, reflection, and stories. The goal of this work is to empower students to tell the story of their growth into entrepreneurially minded engineers. Through connecting, reflecting upon, and constructing their unique stories, students begin to see themselves as engineers who have developed and will continue to develop an entrepreneurial mindset to create value for others. The purpose of this card is to present an overview of the structure and implementation of this unique vertically integrated, story-centric portfolio process.
Overview of the Curricular Framework
As mentioned, the goal of our program is to prepare students to tell the story of their growth into entrepreneurially minded engineers by engaging them in a story-centric portfolio process grounded in evidence and reflection. Figures found in the Images folder show the overall structure of our curricular framework. This framework begins with a first-year launcher course called BMED1000 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering. In this class, foundational topics such as design thinking, reflection, ePortfolios, and entrepreneurial mindset are introduced. Indeed, an overarching goal of this course is to establish a culture of folio thinking. Penny Light et al.  refer to folio thinking as the reflective practice of portfolio creation. This process of learning encourages students to“integrate discrete learning experiences, enhance their self-understanding, promote taking responsibility for their own learning, and support them in developing an intellectual identity” . Students are also introduced to the biomedical engineering field and encouraged early on to become part of the BME community at Georgia Tech. Students complete nine focused reflection assignments as part of our work toward teaching reflection as an engineering skill and scaffolding the students ability to reach the levels of reflection/critical reflection described by Kember et al.  . Additionally, reflection is incorporated into the design projects and discussions throughout the course. At the end of BMED1000, students create a learning portfolio that tells their story of initial entrepreneurial mindset growth over the course of their first semester in college.
At the other end of the curricular framework is a unique culminating course called BMED4000 The Art of Telling Your Story. In this upper level course, students learn to make connections between their experiences throughout their time at Georgia Tech and reflect on these experiences through the lens of an entrepreneurial mindset. While BMED1000 focuses on folio thinking as a means of developing entrepreneurial mindset, BMED4000 enhances mindset growth through story-driven learning (SDL). Students create and curate the unique stories of their experiences and entrepreneurial mindset growth over the course of their college experience. This culminates in a collection of stories curated into a portfolio format.
In between the two curricular bookends of BMED1000 and BMED4000, students are involved in their core biomedical engineering classes. Five of these core courses are designated as gateway courses. In gateway courses, students complete a variety of signature assignments specifically created to foster entrepreneurial mindset and reflection. These signature assignments are also designed to produce meaningful experiences and artifacts that will be used later as part of the students’ story-driven learning experiences and ePortfolios. The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) describes a signature assignment as one that should require students to synthesize, analyze, and apply cumulative knowledge and skills, may also follow a theme across curricular and co-curricular experiences, and often must include specific components such as reflective writing. AAC&U also states, “A distinctive feature of signature assignments is the way programs integrate them across the educational pathway to help students demonstrate their growth, make connections across the curriculum and co-curriculum, and apply their knowledge to real world problems” . We use the above characteristics as our guide to create signature assignments to carry the theme of entrepreneurial mindset and reflection throughout our undergraduate curriculum. We also design these signature assignments to help students make connections between outside experiences and content within our gateway courses while intentionally incorporating social pedagogy as a powerful learning approach.
Our gateway course matrix (found in the Images folder) briefly summarizes the kinds of signature assignments instructional teams are deploying for each gateway course and how the various desired components are incorporated. We have also included our Academic Office workshops as part of our gateway course matrix since these diverse workshops align well with the types of entrepreneurial mindset and reflective activities we want students to engage in throughout the curriculum. We use our gateway course matrix to track progress and alignment in our gateway courses as well as to ensure that students are experiencing entrepreneurial mindset and reflection in a variety of ways throughout the curriculum.
Students will tell the story of their growth into entrepreneurially minded engineers.
Important Features of Implementation
Creating gateway courses with signature assignments that drive our vertically integrated program involves curriculum development as well as faculty and staff development related to entrepreneurial mindset, reflection, stories, and course design. Ten faculty members are involved in developing, implementing, and continuously improving our gateway courses. These course instructors along with a postdoctoral fellow with expertise in higher education, two faculty trained in curriculum development, and an academic office staff member form our Course Implementation Team. This team meets every two weeks. The purpose of these meetings includes aligning vision and goals, sharing progress, and providing each other with constructive feedback.To assist in this process we have created a set of Design Sheets to guide our team’s course and signature assignment development, provide formative feedback, and help us evaluate signature assignment alignment with our overall goals.
Another key aspect of our curricular development in gateway courses is the creation of student-faculty partnerships. Each year, 4-8 biomedical engineering students are recruited based on previous course experience, academic performance, and expressed interest in entrepreneurially minded learning and course development. These student partners form a core team of Course Implementation Assistants (CIA). Instructional teams for each of our gateway courses are then matched with one or more CIA student partners and charged with continual development of signature assignments in their courses. We have found these student-faculty partnerships to be both a significantly positive, meaningful experience and an important way for us to foster entrepreneurial mindset, empathy, and respect within both students and faculty .
During the design and implementation of our vertically integrated program, our faculty development focus has been on gateway course development. However, we have also engaged in other faculty development activities related to our goals. For example, faculty development activities to support the upper level, story-driven learning course (BMED 4000) have been important since this is such a unique course. We have held in-house workshops to give faculty a first hand experience as a student in that course. We have also organized additional workshops on reflections and ePortfolios with recognized experts in these areas as facilitators.
Developing and implementing a vertically integrated portfolio process throughout the undergraduate BME curriculum has the potential to significantly impact entrepreneurial mindset growth within our students. The design of the curricular framework described in this card has involved course development, faculty development, and project management activities over the course of the past two years. During the next phase of our work, we will engage in continuous improvement efforts for our current series of gateway courses and signature assignments. We will also continue faculty development activities related to incorporating entrepreneurial mindset, reflections, and stories into BME courses. Another important part of our future work includes expanding the impact of our program to other engineering departments within Georgia Tech and other universities both inside and outside the KEEN network. We are currently working on developing more rigorous assessment tools for evaluating the impact of our program on the growth of students’ entrepreneurial mindset. We will be able to use these tools once the entire program is running at full scale allowing us to understand students’ entrepreneurial mindset growth by making direct comparisons between student ePortfolios at the beginning of our program in BMED1000 to those at the end of our program in BMED4000. By making direct comparisons between BMED1000and BMED4000 portfolios we will be able to explore the affordances of both folio thinking and story-driven learning on the promotion of entrepreneurial mindset since we are experimenting with each of these approaches in BMED1000 and BMED4000, respectively.