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A Qualitative Investigation Of A First Year Engineering Service Learning Program

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Experiential Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.77.1 - 10.77.16



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Paper Authors

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Michael Thompson

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George Bodner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Qualitative Investigation of a First-Year Engineering Service-Learning Program Michael Thompson, William Oakes, George Bodner Purdue University

Abstract Service learning is a pedagogy that integrates community service into the academic experience. Studies have shown that service learning can positively impact student learning, provides a rich environment for students to learn the professional skills that are often difficult to teach in traditional classes, can increase retention in participants, and can broaden the view of engineering among the participants. Service-learning can greatly enhance the services of local community service organizations that lack the technical staffs and/or resources to take full advantage of current technology. The potential benefits of service learning have motivated the Department of Engineering Education at Purdue to begin implementing service learning into the first-year engineering courses. 143 students participated in a service-learning experience at Purdue University in the Fall semester of 2003. Student and community partner evaluations have shown initial success

A detailed qualitative investigation has been conducted to fully understand the impact of the experience on the student participants. Specifically, one hour interviews were conducted with 20 first-year students, 10 male, 10 female and five underrepresented students. This paper will report on the findings from the study using narrative vignettes.

Introduction According to ABET’s EC 2000 accreditation guidelines set in 2000 1, 2 students must not only meet with competence the basic “traditional” engineering knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering and experience in engineering problem solving and system design, but now are also mandated to be able to function on multidisciplinary teams, to communicate effectively, and to understand a wide range of issues in engineering. These issues include: professional and ethical responsibility, the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context, and knowledge of contemporary issues. Service-learning has the potential to meet these objectives and have been shown to be successful in programs such as the EPICS program 3.

“Service learning which has been described as experimental learning through the integration of traditional classroom teaching with structured community service” 4, is pedagogically consistent with the literature on recruitment and retention of women in science and engineering with its social context; emphasis on general educational goals including communication; employment of cooperative and interdisciplinary approaches; and problems with a “holistic, global scope” 5,6,7 and containing many attributes or factors that are relevant for

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education"

Thompson, M., & Bodner, G., & Oakes, W. (2005, June), A Qualitative Investigation Of A First Year Engineering Service Learning Program Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15064

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