GSA 2015 Abstract & PowerPoint - Bringing the Google 80/20 model to an introductory-level environmental course: a student opportunity for creativity, innovation, and investigation Public

GSA 2015 abstract -- From 2007-2013, Google had an interesting approach as to how it asked its employees to spend their company time. Google’s “Innovation Time Off,” with the goal of recruiting and retaining employees, was referred to as the 80/20 rule. Employees were to give 80% of their time to current Google projects, and for the other 20% of the time, employees could work on whatever they wanted that related somehow to Google yet interested them personally. The Google 80/20 principle was applied to an introductory-level general education course for non-science majors titled Environmental Factors and Their Effect on Your Food Supply. Students were told that 80% of the course was structured and scripted by the instructor, but they were to spend 20% of their time with the course, and have 20% of their grade, be of their creation, their innovation, and their pursuit, relating to food issues. Students were encouraged to explore topics ranging from food supply and food insecurity to education and awareness on a local to global level. Each student utilized a Google Doc as their journal to document all parts of the project, including the initial brainstorming of a topic/project to pursue, information gathering, conversations and communications, and to document progress. At the end of the semester, students were required to do a classroom presentation about their Google 80/20 project or share the results with the instructor in a paper or with a creative display. The students were successful in engaging with practices that are the foundation of undergraduate research – generating an idea for investigation, carrying out that investigation, and seeing the project through to completion with dissemination. The challenge for the instructor was effective mentoring in supervising individual projects for an entire course section.