Teamwork: One of the core activities of STEM professionals is working on diverse teams to solve a problem. While there are many aspects of group dynamics, women and underrepresented minorities can feel isolated and undervalued, especially when they are in teams of all majority students. One of the best practices to improving teamwork in a diverse work environment is to practice active listening and building empathy through common experiences. Many times we share the same problems and we don’t even realize it.

Activity: “The bug list” – “Bugs” in this case do not refer to the creepy crawly insects but instead to those things in our daily lives that never seem to work quite right and frustrate us. The problems can sometimes be fixed but most of the time we just deal with it. Have students gather together in groups of their choice and brainstorm things that frustrate them about technology in their community and discuss how they might be able to fix them. It could be the push button at the traffic light that takes forever to activate, or the wobbly table balanced by a stack of napkins under the base. After the initial activity, invite all your students to keep a daily log of all the “bugs” they observe in their community.  After one week, mix students up into different groups (preferably students who normally don’t work together) and have them listen to teach others’ lists and determine the number of “bugs” they shared in common. They will find something in common with each other that they might not have otherwise known. Have them work together and plan a possible design to fix their “bug”.

The bug list was described by Kelley as a way to discover new design opportunities:

David and Tom Kelley. Creative Confidence. New York: Crown Business, 2013. Print.


This diversity tip was originally shared in the May 18, 2016 Newsletter.

If you have a diversity/inclusion tip or resource you would like to share with the division, please email Morgan Hynes morganhynes@purdue.edu.

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