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A Participatory Investigation of Learning in International Service Projects

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Collection

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Collaborative Learning, Project-Based, Service Learning, and Impacts on Engineering Education

Tagged Division

International

Page Count

18

Page Numbers

22.81.1 - 22.81.18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/17363

Download Count

23

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Paper Authors

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Russell Korte University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Russell Korte is an Assistant Professor in Human Resource Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been a co-investigator for the Collaborative Research Lab at Stanford University, a research assistant for the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education, and is currently a Fellow with the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education. His research investigates how engineering students navigate their education and how engineering graduates transition into the workplace—specifically studying how they learn the social norms of organizations and navigate the social and political systems in the workplace. Research interests include theory, philosophy, workplace learning and performance, socialization, adult education, social psychology, and organization studies.

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Bruce Elliott-Litchfield University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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J. Bruce Elliott-Litchfield is Assistant Dean in Undergraduate Programs in Engineering. He advises students and directs the Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education, the iFoundry Illinois Engineering First-year Experience, the Learning in Community program, and the Creativity, Innovation, and Vision course suite. He is faculty advisor for Engineers Without Borders and conducts research on what students learn via international service projects and how students learn to enhance creativity. An Illinois alumnus, he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, worked in industry for four years, and earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural and biochemical engineering at Purdue University. Since 1986, he has been on the faculty at the University of Illinois, where he is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

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Laura D. Hahn University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Laura Hahn is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She specializes in curriculum and instruction, learning outcomes assessment, and intercultural learning. She is also the Director of the Intensive English Institute at Illinois.

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Aaron Daniel Lewicki University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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I am currently a graduate student in the College of Education at the University of Illinois studying organization development and strategic design. I have interests in professional identity development and social cognitive learning experiences and their impact on college students.

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Valeri Werpetinski University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Valeri Werpetinski is a Specialist in Education in the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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Seung Won Hong University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Abstract

A Participatory Investigation of Learning in International Service ProjectsIntroductionFor some time there have been calls for expanding the methods and content ofengineering education. Some educators suggest a more holistic curriculum, otherspractical experiences, and some advocate a societal focus. We posit that a participatoryinvestigation of what and how students learn through international service projects canyield ideas and synergies that lead to a meaningful enhancement of the engineeringcurriculum. We investigated student learning in international service projects; initialresults show students becoming empowered and impassioned by their experiences. Theseresults have been observed before; however a deeper exploration of these learningprocesses and outcomes is useful for curricular development for all engineeringstudents—whether or not they have access to international experiences.BackgroundVarious recommendations across the educational landscape, including the Engineer of2020, focus on preparing students for the complex and global challenges of the 21stcentury—often meaning that students need to become more self-directed, globallycompetent, and socially aware. Although these outcomes are highly valued, the means toachieving them are not well understood, nor are the means to initiate curriculum changesthat support these outcomes.This study takes an in-depth look at student experiences (specifically what and how theylearn) in several international service projects, adopting a participatory method to collect,interpret, and use the data. The participants joined with the research team and facultymembers to dialogue about learning outcomes from international service experiences.Together, they explored the question: How can the lessons learned from students ininternational engineering projects translate into the development of meaningful learningopportunities in curricular and co-curricular engineering programs?Theoretical Frameworks for Investigating Student LearningThe guiding framework for this study drew upon previous theoretical work onexperiential learning and social cognition. Additional guidance came from previous workon social identity, intercultural competencies, and service-learning. This study pulls thesevarious strands of theory and practice together to develop a richer understanding oflearning in international contexts and how it might enhance the engineering curriculum.The StudyThe participants from this study included students from a chapter of Engineers WithoutBorders. Through interviews, meetings, discussions, and journals, EWB participantsprovided rich narratives about their experiences, including changes in their knowledge,skills and attitudes about themselves as engineers and as people. Meetings with EWBstudents and faculty to review the findings are planned to encourage instructionaldevelopment and curricular enhancements that capitalize on this learning. Thiscollaborative approach empowers students to engage in reflection and action that can leadto greater self-understanding and to significant curricular changes that matter to them.Implications for Engineering EducationThe findings of this study will contribute to an understanding of ways in which studentsdevelop a more holistic and global approach to engineering projects. The work ofstudents, faculty, and the research team will lead to models and approaches forincorporating key features of co-curricular international project work into the mainstreamof instruction and curriculum reform.ReferencesProvided in full paper.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015