2018 Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching

DCAL

January 15, 2019

The Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) is delighted to announce the winner of the 2018 Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching. This year's award goes to professors Eugene Korsunskiy and Peter Robbie for their two-term course “Senior Design Challenge.” Eugene Korsuniskiy is a lecturer and Peter Robbie is an Associate Professor, both at Thayer School of Engineering.  

The Apgar Award recognizes and supports innovative teaching initiatives that cross traditional academic boundaries. The award is aimed at team-taught, interdisciplinary courses, particularly those offered by faculty at an early stage of their careers and particularly faculty in the Arts and Humanities. A gift from Mahlon Apgar, IV D’62 and Sarah Tipper Apgar, Tu’11 made this award possible. The endowment for this prize provides a modest cash prize to each of the faculty teaching the course selected for the award.

“It’s a really different way to teach: I have to be the process coach, not the keeper of knowledge. The knowledge is what the students are creating.” —Eugene Korsuniskiy

The Senior Design Challenge is a project-based capstone course, open to seniors of all majors. Multidisciplinary teams of students match with partner organizations in our community and use the methodology of human-centered design to tackle innovation challenges. Partner organizations have included Efficiency Vermont, Upper Valley Haven, The Dartmouth Institute, Peter Sheehan Diabetes Care Foundation, and Burton Snowboards. As the methodology of human-centered design is intrinsically interdisciplinary, content is drawn from a variety of fields – professors from the Departments of Anthropology, Computer Science, and the Tuck School of Business gave lectures in the course’s last instance.

Eugene Korsunskiy and Peter Robbie
l to r: Design instructor Eugene Korsunskiy, Senior Design Challenge co-creator Ashley Manning, and Professor Peter Robbie, from Dartmouth Engineer article, The Power of Design Thinking.

Learning objectives include training students to be equipped and empowered to identify and articulate problems that need solving; lead and participate in an effective team of collaborators; manage a complex project, including setting goals and allocating resources; generate and test solution ideas; articulate transferrable skills; and innovate in any domain. Students achieve these goals by first completing a research review and producing numerous avenues for innovation. Then, working in conjunction with partner organizations and community stakeholders, project teams prototype and test possible solutions to reach a viable innovation and implementation plan. Along the way, the course uses regular individual and team reflections that focus student attention on the universal and transferable aspects of the learning objectives. The Senior Design Challenge is one of Dartmouth’s premier experiential course offerings, exemplifying the principles and practice of intentional, reflective, and applied learning.

The Apgar Award at Dartmouth is the latest in the Awards for Excellence program that was begun by Sandy and Anne Apgar in 1982 and is presented annually at 15 leading educational and cultural institutions and professional organizations. The Apgar Award recognizes and supports innovative teaching initiatives that cross traditional academic boundaries. It is aimed at proposals for team-taught, interdisciplinary courses, particularly those offered by faculty at an early stage of their careers and particularly faculty in the Arts and Humanities. A gift from Mahlon Apgar, IV D’62 and Sarah Tipper Apgar, Tu’11 made this award possible.

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