The goal of the “Fresno State Transportation Challenge” was outreach to schools and community engagement, to provide K-8 students opportunities to learn about transportation and transportation-related careers, and to practice 21st century skills by solving a transportation-related issue in their community. Through the pedagogical frameworks of action civics and eduScrum (a method to facilitate self-managed teamwork with a visual board), teachers and students worked on solving issues in their community. They learned design thinking to identify issues and develop solutions while using eduScrum to manage their work. University students from transportation engineering visited the schools regularly to support the K-8 students in their work on a transportation-related project. The study tested two different formats: summer school and during the regular academic school year. The research question was: What is the impact of the “Fresno State Transportation Challenge” on K-8 students, K-8 teachers, university students, and community members? The research methods involved observations, open interviews, and a final survey of participants. Key findings reveal the Transportation Challenge is suited to teach elementary and middle school students about transportation and transportation-related careers, and to encourage them to apply this knowledge in addressing a transportation-related issue in their community. The involvement of university students had a positive influence on the younger students’ learning in regard to motivation, role modeling, and broadening the perspective of transportation-related careers. The pedagogical approaches of action civics and eduScrum facilitated the development of career skills, such as collaboration, communication, creativity, teamwork, critical thinking, and persistence to overcome challenges. Implications for practice include that leveraging university resources, such as the Fresno State Transportation Institute, can be an effective way to engage K-8 students and teachers in transportation-related authentic learning experience, increase their awareness of transportation-related careers and topics, and develop their career skills.
DR. CHRISTIAN WANDELER
Dr. Christian Wandeler is an associate professor in research methods and statistics at California State University, Fresno. He has a Ph.D. in personality and positive psychology from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His research interests are the development of hope and learning achievement, project-based learning, and self-managing teams. He is currently researching the use of agile learning methods and design thinking in action civics projects. He is also a certified trainer of teachers in the eduScrum method.
DR. STEVEN HART
Dr. Steven Hart is a full-time professor. He served as the principal investigator for a subgrantee award from the Learn and Serve “Civic Minor in Urban/Metropolitan Education” grant and co-principal investigator for the California State University Chancellor’s Office “Preparing a New Generation of Educators for California” grant. Dr. Hart is an expert in service-learning and served as the service-learning fellow at Fresno State. He engaged in participatory research with youth, exploring literacy practices in service-learning contexts developing afterschool programs with community centers, and implementing service- learning pedagogy with classroom teachers. Dr. Hart also led the management of a substantial grant from the California Public Charter Schools Grant Program as a board member of Kepler Neighborhood Charter School.