Promoting Sustainability at HU

HU Faculty Institute 2014-1-Shannon ChanceToday was a busy first day back at Hampton University.  The dean re-introduced me to the faculty with a big “welcome home!”  I have to admit,  my colleagues’ enthusiastic greetings made me feel like a superstar all day.

After the morning keynote sessions, the whole faculty headed over to the HU waterfront for our annual picnic. This year’s weather was amazing and the jazz ensemble sounded lovely.

The faculty wrapped up the afternoon with information sessions, one of which I helped facilitate.  My colleagues and I encouraged our peers to integrate environmental topics into the courses they teach.

You can view my Prezi online:  I showed a few images of how we integrate sustainability into architecture courses at HU.  I also discussed the “Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability” course I teach in the summer at William and Mary.  I took the opportunity to promote student-centered pedagogies (which I studied at Dublin Institute of Technology) and the importance of getting students to generate new knowledge (a core idea in W&M’s School of Education).

Refining PBL in Setúbal, Portugal

Setubal logoI’ve been away from blogging to focus on my mini lecture tour.  I spent a week in Portugal and a week in Belgium visiting universities, meeting with students and educators, and sharing ideas about how to teach and learn effectively.

My first stop in Portugal was to an engineering program located a ferry ride from Lisbon.

My colleague Bill Williams teaches there. I had met Bill at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) conference in Greece last September. Bill was born in Cork, Ireland. He teaches English to engineers, is working on a PhD, and does high-quality engineering education research. He helped coordinate my trip in a way that allowed me to visit five different campuses while I was in Portugal.  Bill seems to know everyone in Portugal who is doing research about how to educate engineers.

Bill hopes to get more people using active learning approaches in the classrooms at Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro – Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal so the two of us conducted a two-hour workshop on Project-Based and Problem-Based Learning.  Thirteen people came to learn about PBL, hear about methods in use at Dublin Institute of Technology and about research I’ve been doing at DIT, and work together to develop ideas for implementing PBL across one program at the institute in Setubal.

Bill and I hope those ideas will move from hypothetical to actual someday soon.

Today, I’m posting images that the institute’s photographer took of the event.  I have many more of the participants working in groups to explore the “problem” of how to implement PBL in Setubal.  I was thrilled to receive email from participants after the event via Bill — I was really impressed that they took time to say they enjoyed the workshop.

International Lecture Tour

In less than two days, I fly out of Dublin for a two-week “lecture tour”.  I’m being sponsored though Fulbright Portugal next week and Fulbright Belgium the week after.  This is part of the larger Fulbright Inter-Country Lecturing program.

We have an exciting, action-packed schedule outlined.

In addition to speaking and learning about how other people teach architecture, engineering, and education, I’ve also got a heavy load of homework to carry along.

While I’m away, I’ll hopefully find time to write three conference abstracts, finalize and submit a funding proposal, and prepare for the class I’m co-teaching in May.

Wish me luck!


Lisbon (photo downloaded from Cunard Cruise line)


Wednesday, April 10

Visit to Escola Superior de Tecnologia do Barreiro of the Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal.

Thursday, April 11

Round-table talk at Setubal Polytechnic Institute (IPS).

Friday, April 12

Presentation on Tools for Assessing Design Students’ Cognitive Development to Architecture PhD students at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST). 

Monday, April 15

Presentation on The Use of Staff Learning Groups to Transform Engineering Education at the Dublin Institute of Technology to the Department of Education at the University of Aveiro and engineers from the Polytechnic School of Águeda.  I’ll also meet some of the students and teachers using Problem-Based Learning at the Polytechnic School in Aveiro and/or Águeda (25km away).

Tuesday, April 16

Meet with engineering teachers at the Universidade do Minho engineering campus in Guimarães.


Leuven (photo downloaded from KU-Leuven website)


Wednesday, April 17

Meet with the president of the European Society of Engineering Educators (SEFI), an engineering professor at Katholic University of Leuven who also directs KU-Leuven’s Teaching and Learning Department.

Thursday, April 18

Deliver a presentation 7-9 PM on Research Paradigms: Filtering What We See and Know to the architecture school (I will discuss major research paradigms and then provide examples of studies I’ve done that used methods aligned with positivism, interpretivism, constructivism, and critical realism.  Presentation includes examples of work I’ve done in Africa).

Monday, April 22

Presentation on Tools for Assessing Design Students’ Cognitive Development to members of the LESEC (the Teaching and Learning Department) at KU-Leuven.

Tuesday, April 23

Interview with Fulbright Belgium for use on their websites.

Group-Based Learning in Action

I’m becoming a bigger and bigger believer in collaborative learning!  Last semester I did lot of research about how engineering professors (i.e., lecturers) here at Dublin Institute of Technology worked together to develop new ways of teaching electrical engineers.  I was amazed to discover how incredibly much they learned by working together.

Such impressive knowledge gain is the premise behind Project-Based Learning and other group-based learning formats.

Orla and Shannon in the throws of course planning.

Orla and Shannon in the throws of course planning.

My day today was filled with meetings about collaborative research and teaching projects.

With the help of five different tech guys, I got SPSS up and running so that I will be able to help analyze data on that Mike Murphy and I collected from engineering and engineering technology students. We asked them what they saw themselves doing in the future, how well prepared they feel to start work, and what kinds of things they’ve focused their efforts on over the past few years.

After lunch I met with Orla Hanratty of DIT’s Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC) and introduced her to Brian Bowe. She’ll be co-teaching a course (i.e., module) with us in May.  We aim to increase the usage and visibility of Problem-Based Learning at DIT by teaching more teachers to use Problem-Based Learning in their own classrooms.

And now, tonight, I’ve been working on a proposal for funding with Ted Burke and Damon Berry.  It’s an opportunity that the college’s head of research, Marek Rebow, told me about yesterday and it has to be completed immediately.

I rallied the troops. Ted drafted some text. Then Damon and I were adding our own contributions to it using Google Docs.  It was so strange… Damon and me editing the same document at the same time.  It turned into a bit of an academic chat session.  We tossed ideas back and forth, discussing budget, objectives, and ways to improve what we’ve already got in place.

We’ll do more of that tomorrow, when the three of us meet to hash this out… and have some fun learning in the process.

Years Ahead in Recycling

The Irish are hipper with recycling than we are in most places in the States.  The Dublin Institute of Technology, for instance, provides some bins that are clearly labelled and located in sensible places.

Recycle bins at the train station “guarantee to recycle 70% of the contents” deposited into them.  That beats us by leaps and bounds!

Recycling at DIT’s headquarters on Aungier Street.

Recycling at Heuston Station.

Mapping Dublin’s Transport Routes (Thanks a Mil, Colin Broderick!)

The proposed transportation map, which helps people visualize the links between various systems of public transportation.

An enterprising recent Dublin Institute of Technology graduate, Colin Broderick, has developed a very helpful map of all of Dublin’s public transport routes.  Colin created a map to help people visualize various transit routes and see how they connect.  And the Irish Times featured his idea yesterday!

This is truly exciting for me (a recent arrival to the city who struggles to navigate a frequently baffling bus system).

For the past three months I’ve longed for a resource like the one Colin has produced.

When my sister, Heather, visited from New York City in September, we collectively bemoaned the lack of such a visualization tool.

Yesterday’s Irish Times listed issue #4 as improving Dublin’s transportation map. YAY!!!!!

There has been, it seems, no comprehensive map of Dublin’s many bus routes published in recent memory.  Heather and I each, individually, trekked to the Dublin Bus headquarters to request one, only to leave empty handed.

The lack of a map was truly a “gap in the existing knowledge base” here in Dublin. And someone fresh out of DIT (my host institution here in Ireland) took it upon himself to fix the situation!

In the past two months, I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to make a map like Colin’s for my own personal use. I even dreamed of sharing it with others, but I also knew I didn’t have adequate time. And I worried that I would misunderstand some of the systems and make mistakes, which would mean I couldn’t share it.

Now, my dream of having such a map will become reality.

I applaud Colin for developing and such a map–and for making it available to the rest of us.

Many thanks to Joan Cahalin, her husband (Peter Twamley), and their awesome kids (Georgie and Jox) for tuning me into this bit of news!

The Irish Times will feature a new issue each day this week.

I snapped a few images of the map while I was with them earlier today, although I haven’t had the opportunity to study Colin’s graphic closely yet. Each day this week, the Irish Times will focus on a separate issue.  Colin’s map will be “front and center” in Tuesday’s paper.  I can’t wait to, as we say in the States, “read all about it.”