ASQ - Education Division

Organizational Learning in STEM Education Contexts: Analyzing the “Stickiness” of High Impact Practices

Abstract: The paper is authored by Jo Ann Oravec, Andrew Ciganek, John Smith and Roger Yin of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. This paper is included in the Proceedings for the ASQ 2012 Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference at UW-Stout, July 16-17.

This research initiative addresses problems involving how higher educational institutions acquire and disseminate knowledge, with emphases on knowledge about the effectiveness of high impact practices (HIPs) and the concept of “stickiness” (Szulanski, 2003). HIPs, which include such activities as capstone experiences and internships, have been shown to have considerable impact on the overall quality of the academic experiences of undergraduates although their importance is often overlooked and systematic accounts rarely retained and shared. This initiative outlines and expands the notion of stickiness, a construct that incorporates insights from knowledge transfer milestones and communication theory, and applies it to the context of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. The notion of stickiness captures the ability of some kinds of knowledge to be more easily transferred among organizational units. The research is applied to the problems of developing an “HIP Toolkit” to exchange knowledge about HIP as well as evaluating social network infrastructures for knowledge transfer. The literature on organizational learning shows how practices labeled as “failures” are often forgotten, leading to repetition of mistakes in contexts of critical importance. This research initiative extends the stickiness notion with analysis of differences in knowledge transfer of HIP failures as well as successes.

Keywords: STEM - Conference Proceedings - Critical Thinking - Higher Education Brief

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