Kris Wobbe Named Co-Director of the Center for Project-Based Learning

DEPARTMENT(S): 
June 11, 2019

WPI is pleased to announce that Kristin K. Wobbe, professor of biochemistry and associate dean of Undergraduate Studies, will be assuming the role of co-director of the Center for Project-Based Learning (PBL) to meet growing demand for the Center’s services. She and founding director Rick Vaz, professor of interdisciplinary and global studies and electrical and computer engineering, will serve as co-directors of the Center. “I am thrilled that Kris has agreed to take a leadership role in the Center,” says Vaz. “Her expertise and ideas will expand our impact on higher education.”

Wobbe has had a long involvement with project-based learning, introducing projects into her biochemistry courses as early as 1997, and then taking on a significant role in the creation, implementation, and leadership of the Great Problems Seminar, WPI’s two-term course that introduces first-year students to project-based learning. Earlier this year, she and assistant teaching professor of undergraduate studies Elisabeth “Lisa” Stoddard co-edited Project-Based Learning in the First Year: Beyond All Expectations, a book based on WPI’s experience with the Great Problems Seminar, designed to share insight and strategies with other universities interested in implementing project-based learning in their own curricula.

She has been a member of the Center’s steering committee since the beginning of its flagship program, the Institute on Project-Based Learning, and has delivered workshops both for the Institute and on site at multiple colleges and universities. In her new role, Wobbe looks forward to building on the work done by Vaz, who has been the Center’s director since 2016, to expand the reach and impact of the Center and to increase WPI’s scholarly presence on the topic.

“In my years of teaching using PBL and working with faculty to help them adopt PBL, I’ve been so impressed with how transformative project-based learning can be,” she says. “Both students and faculty become more engaged in their courses, have more fun, enjoy the opportunity to explore new topics or old topics in new ways, and perhaps most important, to form more meaningful relationships with each other. I believe that PBL is a far better way to prepare students for lives outside a classroom, inculcating skills that are transferable to many workplaces and to life in general. After all, life is a series of problems that need to be solved. Practice makes us all better at that.”