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Abet Outcomes Via Project Based Service Learning Attributes: Assessment Via Successful Intelligence

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Project-Based Service Learning

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.150.1 - 14.150.12



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Paper Authors


Chris Swan Tufts University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Swan is an Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Tufts University. His current interests relate to service learning in engineering education, the reuse of recovered or recyclable materials, and sustainable construction.

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Mary McCormick Tufts University

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Ms. McCormick graduated from Tufts University with a MSCE in 2008. Her masters research focused on the use of service learning in engineering education. She currently works as a geotechnical engineer with GEI Consultants, Inc. in Woburn, MA.

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

ABET Outcomes via Project-Based Service Learning Attributes – Assessment via Successful Intelligence Abstract Project-based service learning (PBSL) is an amalgamation of two types of pedagogical methods: problem-based learning (PBL) and service learning (SL). The dynamic interplay between the two methods creates a synergistic pedagogy that is stronger than either one alone. While the collaborative nature intrinsic to problem-based learning engenders development of technical (classroom-learned concepts) and professional skills (teamwork, communication, leadership, diversity), the service learning aspects allows students to gain knowledge of societal, cultural, economic, and environmental impacts of their solutions. ABET-based educational outcomes require degree programs to provide technical and professional skills while acknowledging and addressing societal and global issues in the impacts of engineering work. While technical skills can be routinely measured, the issue of providing quantitative measures of professional skills is more challenging and lacks a reliable precedent. So, how can one effectively quantify the attributes provided by PBSL to show how they satisfy the non-technical attributes of ABET educational outcomes?

This paper discusses how the attributes associated with PBSL can be mapped to the desired outcomes of ABET-accredited programs and how these attributes can be measured. First, an overview of PBSL and its attributes are described and connected to the desired, ABET educational outcomes. Then, a possible assessment methodology, based on Sternberg’s triarchic theory of human cognition, is introduced as a possible theoretical basis for quantitative measurement of PBSL attributes. A case study performed at Tufts University, is presented that illustrates how this evaluation process, based on the triarchic theory, leads to quantifiable measures of technical and professional skills.

I. Introduction

Engineering education has conventionally focused on developing students’ technical skills. Over the last few years, concerns have escalated among many national organizations that technical expertise solely is no longer sufficient. As stated by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), “The manner in which civil engineering is practiced must change” (2). Engineering education must be restructured to adequately prepare engineers for the anticipated future challenges; globalization, sustainability, complexity, and adaptability. Publications such as the Engineering Criterion 3 (EC 2000) from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (1), Engineer of 2020 by the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) (15), and ASCE’s Body of Knowledge (BOK2)(3) are aimed at revising the current engineering curriculum to shift the existing paradigm of the engineering curriculum towards a more well-rounded education. Although the premise of each report is unique, there is a consistent, resounding theme: the engineering curriculum must be expanded beyond technical skills to develop students’ proficiencies in those skills traditionally considered “soft”; i.e. leadership, project management, teamwork, and communication (5).

In chartering the Engineer of 2020 project, the NAE’s primary goal was to develop a curriculum framework that would provide engineers with the necessary skill set to “overcome future

Swan, C., & McCormick, M. (2009, June), Abet Outcomes Via Project Based Service Learning Attributes: Assessment Via Successful Intelligence Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5570

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