Final Thoughts

 

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At both Rhein-Waal University’s Fablab and QConcepts Design & Engineering, students were highly focused, inspired by their learning, and eager to share their work.  They were also developing a wide range of skills that went far beyond simple rote knowledge or occupation-specific technical skills; they were developing adaptability, organization, communication, and teamwork skills.  Both turned the traditional notion of teacher-led instruction on its head.  In both environments, I noticed a common thread.  Instead of a teacher directing the stages of a project, students worked together to solve problems.  At both the Rhein-Waal University Fablab and  , I met students whose lives were being transformed by their learning experiences.  I came to understand that two crucial factors led to these successes: the interdisciplinary nature of student projects and the high levels of autonomy granted to students.  Both of these approaches show incredible promise for helping transform teaching in American community colleges so that we, too, can better prepare our students to meet 21st-century challenges.

I learned a great deal in a very short time on this journey, and I am incredibly grateful to all those who made this trip a reality.  Thank you to both Lori Gonko and Sandy Balkema for organizing, as well as to our wonderful hosts at Rhein-Waal University: Drs Maike Kauffman and Joost Kleuters.  Thank you also to Adriana Cabrera, Maria Simón Fuente, Suat Nguyen, and Tinus Hammink for their assistance in creating my final paper for this course.  Inspired by their wonderful work, I have tentatively titled my paper, “Transformative teaching in Europe: Keys to 21st-century outcomes.”

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