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A Comparative Assessment of Graduate versus Undergraduate Student Outcomes via International Community Engagement Programs

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Global Community Engagement in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.27.1 - 25.27.27



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Paper Authors


Kristine Louise Guzak Michigan Technological University

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Kristine Louise Guzak is a Ph.D. student of environmental engineering at Michigan Technological University. She is the lead graduate student on a larger project assessing the impacts of learning through service on undergraduate students. Her research interests include engineering education with some focuses on international programs.

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Kurt Paterson P.E. Michigan Technological University Orcid 16x16

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Kurt Paterson, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is also Director of Michigan Tech's D80 Center. D80 has the mission to develop contribution-based learning, research, and service opportunities for all students and staff to partner with the poorest 80% of humanity, together creating solutions that matter. As Director of several international programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Paterson, his colleagues, and his students have conducted numerous community-inspired research and design projects. Paterson is an educational innovator, recently adding courses for first-year students, Great Ideas, and graduate students, Discover Design Delight. At the intersection of these two fields, Paterson leads several national initiatives for learning engineering through service, recently taking the reins for the American Society for Engineering Education’s newest division startup, Community Engagement in Engineering Education. He is PI, or Co-PI, on several large projects assessing the impacts of learning through service on students, faculty, and communities around the world.

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Alexandra Archer Michigan Technological University

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Alexandra Archer is an environmental engineering master's student in the Peace Corps Masters International program at Michigan Tech. She holds a master's in biological systems engineering from Kansas State University. Her research interests include sustainable engineering and international community engagement.

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A Comparative Assessment of Graduate versus Undergraduate Student Outcomes via International Community Engagement ProgramsStudents come from a variety of backgrounds to participate in international programs,which leads to questions of why students are attracted to these programs and what theyare gaining from their involvement? This paper provides findings of a comparative studydone on two of University X’s international community engagement programs: one at thegraduate level, the other at the undergraduate level. In order to better understand theeffectiveness of their engineering education in preparing students to engage in beneficialcommunity fieldwork five assessment methods were used. These methods included: 1.)sustainable engineering knowledge, perspectives, and efficacy, 2.) readiness forinternational experiences, 3.) intercultural awareness, 4.) skills and attitudes, and 5.)motivations. Twenty-four undergraduates and twenty-three graduate students completedthe five instruments prior to fieldwork and again upon returning from fieldwork. Thecollected information was analyzed utilizing three independent variables, gender (male orfemale), class status (undergraduate or graduate student) and prior experience abroad(low, medium, high). Initial findings suggest a significant difference between class statuswith regards to intercultural awareness and readiness. Additionally, preliminary resultssuggest differences with respect to gender and sustainable engineering awareness. Basedon the evidence to date, University X has recently implemented reforms in both programsto improve intercultural and sustainable engineering competencies, as well as crafting alearning community to infuse skills, attitudes, and motivations. This work presented willunderscore critical program design practices for achieving meaningful benefits of studentparticipants as well as the communities they serve.

Guzak, K. L., & Paterson, K., & Archer, A. (2012, June), A Comparative Assessment of Graduate versus Undergraduate Student Outcomes via International Community Engagement Programs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20787

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