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A Community Partner's Role During a First-Year Service Learning Project

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

The D/M/A of CE

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.26.1 - 23.26.15



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Paper Authors


Libby Osgood P.Eng. University of Prince Edward Island and Dalhousie University

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Libby Osgood is an engineering lecturer at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada, where she teaches second-year dynamics and design courses. Concurrently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her background is in aerospace and systems engineering, specifically related to satellite design. She was a systems engineer on two of NASA Goddard’s satellites: FERMI and LDCM. Her interests have shifted to studying active learning techniques in engineering education, specifically service learning and social justice.

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Clifton R Johnston Dalhousie University

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Dr. Johnston is the NSERC chair in Design Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Dalhousie University. He has taught and practiced design engineering for the past 20 years. He has been awarded the STLHE Alan Blizzard Award for Collaborative Education, the ASME Curriculum Innovation Award and a PIC V Best Paper award at ASEE.

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Andrew Trivett University of Prince Edward Island

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A Community Partner’s Role During a First-Year Service Learning ProjectThere are three primary roles in a Service Learning project: student, teacher, and communitypartner. It has been established that students enjoy and benefit from Service Learningexperiences. Teachers benefit as well, in their ability to meet educational objectives. For thecommunity partner, the advantage appears to be obvious; their problem is resolved. However,this cannot be assumed. This paper will explore actual gains and losses incurred by onecommunity partner during an experience with a Service Learning project.In the 2011 – 2012 academic year, 45 first-year engineering students were introduced to a needfrom a remote village in Kenya. Though it would have been preferable to work directly with thevillagers, poor internet quality and the extreme distance made this impossible. As a result, peoplefrom the local community, who regularly travelled to the village, identified the need and acted asthe ‘customer’ during the 18-week long project. In groups of 3, the students designed charcoalpresses to convert agricultural waste into charcoal briquettes more efficiently than the currentprocess.The community partners were involved in the design process during the problem introduction, ahands-on demonstration of the process, Q&A sessions, design reviews, and the designexposition. Also, while in the village, the community partners facilitated an exchange ofinformation and performed an experiment designed by the students. The time demand, thoughgreat, gave the students a better understanding of the needs of the villager.This paper will include a qualitative assessment of the community partners’ involvements. Thiswill be achieved through interviews, an examination of activities between the students and thecommunity partner, and excerpts from the data acquired in the remote village. Finally, theaccomplishments and deficiencies that the community partner experienced will be analyzed, andrecommendations will be made to ensure that the expectations are achievable.

Osgood, L., & Johnston, C. R., & Trivett, A. (2013, June), A Community Partner's Role During a First-Year Service Learning Project Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19040

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