Volume IV: What works, What matters, What lasts

Stories from the PKAL LI Experience

January 31, 2007

The power of stories is the theme of this PKAL posting. From campuses participating in PKAL’s Leadership Initiative, (very)-short stories are presented about how they galvanized conversations about new directions for undergraduate STEM programs, kept those conversations going, and built an infrastructure for the future. We invite you to study their stories in the context of change efforts on your campus.

A key insight emerging from an analysis of the stories from campuses collaborating as a part of PKAL’s Leadership Initiative is how relevant is research on how people learn. Just as there are specific circumstances that contribute to robust student learning, it is clear that, in developing and nurturing leadership teams:

  • People need a real problem to solve that matters in the world in which they live and work; they need a learning experience that ties theory to practice.
  • It is critical to shape a process and structure for the work of leaders that signals every voice matters and diversity is celebrated.
  • People need to figure things out for themselves. This is the constructive, experiential approach to learning– so sand boxes (curricular or physical or other) are important tools. Further, people need to connect what they are learning to what they already know.
  • People need to communicate (listen and speak, hear and be heard) about what they are learning and experiencing, at each stage of the process.

The short-stories from the PKAL LI community illustrate how those four dimensions of learning play out in the work of leadership teams.

Believing that buildings tell stories, we also present a presentation from the 2006 PKAL Leadership Seminar in Kansas City—inviting you to review each of these spaces and determine the vision of student learning that it illustrates.