June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.119.1 - 13.119.13
A Successful Model for Engineers Studying Abroad: A Foreign Study Center with Concurrent Instruction Abstract
In the fall of 2006, Grove City College offered for the first time the option of studying abroad for an entire semester to junior mechanical engineers. This opportunity involved the establishment of a study center in France (associated with the University of Nantes) along with remote instruction in two courses concurrently taught in France and in Grove City, PA. Although students in other majors have had the chance to study a semester or even a year abroad, this opportunity has typically eluded the engineering majors. Finding comparable course offerings at foreign institutions is often difficult. Therefore, students desiring to remain in sync with their classmates decide not to go. Still, it is well accepted that engineers of today must function in a global society. Greater exposure to different cultures will prove to be an invaluable asset to the student as well as their future employer. Thus, the Office of International Education at Grove City College designed and implemented a study-abroad program directly targeting mechanical engineers. This program involved two courses taught concurrently by professors at Grove City College, a laboratory experience making use of the facilities at the University of Nantes and additional equipment brought from the United States, a course taught by one of the resident professors staying at the study center, and a foreign language course taught by a second resident professor. Students also were exposed to living and interacting in a foreign community, exploring industrial facilities in the country, and making invaluable contacts with foreign employers.
The typical concerns of studying abroad were eliminated with the new approach. These issues centered on equivalent academic experience, academic rigor, remote teaching tools (GoToMeeting and DyKnow) used with TabletPCs and their effectiveness, study center versus full immersion model, and more. Through careful assessment, it was shown that the pilot semester abroad opportunity was successful in all aspects. The students in France performed as well as the students on the Grove City campus in the two concurrent courses. In addition, the students in France perceived no difficulty receiving the lectures remotely, and were encouraged to submit graded assignments electronically using their TabletPCs which greatly facilitated the transfer of documents between Grove City and France. An unexpected finding of the assessment was that some students who studied abroad improved their academic standing. This was attributed to the immersion of the students in a residential study center and the constant availability of other mechanical engineering students as study partners. This program is now in its second year, and assessment data from this year is used to further support our conclusions regarding the effectiveness of this study-abroad model.
In 2004, Grove City College selected a cross-discipline, multi-level team whose goal was to develop a strategic plan which will propel the College into the future. Administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni, members of the local community, and Trustees were represented on the team. After a year of intensive investigation and discussion, a plan was submitted for approval to the Board of Trustees. The plan was accepted and has been used to direct the progress of the
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