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An Assessment Approach to Project-Based Service Learning

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Assessment of Community Engagement

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.151.1 - 23.151.27



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Paper Authors


Antonette T. Cummings P.E. Purdue University

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Antonette Cummings is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

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James Huff Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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James L. Huff is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education at Purdue University as well as the assistant education administrator for EPICS. He earned his B.S. in Computer Engineering at Harding University and an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He is currently on an academic leave from his role as an instructor of engineering at Harding University. His research interests include professional socialization of engineers, social cognition in engineering, community-driven design, and interpretive phenomenology.

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William C. Oakes Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Dr. William "Bill" Oakes is the director of the EPICS program and one of the founding faculty members of the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has held courtesy appointments in Mechanical, Environmental and Ecological Engineering as well as Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. He is a registered professional engineer and on the NSPE board for Professional Engineers in Higher Education. He has been active in ASEE serving in the FYP, CIP and ERM. He is the past chair of the IN/IL section. He is a fellow of the Teaching Academy and listed in the Book of Great Teachers at Purdue University. He was the first engineering faculty member to receive the National Campus Compact Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning. He was a co-recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education and the recipient of the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Educational Excellence Award and the ASEE Chester Carlson Award. He is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Carla B. Zoltowski, Ph.D., is education administrator of the EPICS Program at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Jngineering and Ph.D. in Engineering Education all from Purdue
University. She has served as a lecturer in Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Zoltowski’s academic and research interests include human-centered design learning and assessment, service-learning, ethical reasoning assessment, leadership, and assistive technology.

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A Research-Informed Assessment Approach to Project-Based Service LearningAssessment is important to engineering educators and researchers to evaluate the effectivenessand quality of student learning in courses and experiences. Assessment can be particularlychallenging in engineering project-based service-learning (PBSL) because the types of outcomesdo not lend themselves to traditional modes of assessment. This paper presents a strategy ofassessing an established PBSL program. The goals of the PBSL program are to develop designskills and to develop a broader set of skills required for graduates to thrive in a globalenvironment. Like many service-learning programs, there is also the intent to impact studentspersonally and professionally beyond the course goals for the benefit of the community.This paper will use the program as an example for a research-informed assessment plan.Assessments include formative and summative assessments that are integrated into thecurriculum and provide feedback to the students during the course. The assessments aredesigned to be used across disciplines because the PBSL program is very multidisciplinary,including students from across as well as outside of engineering.A more recent addition to the assessment portfolio is an alumni survey to provide a reflectiveview of the impact of the experiences after graduation. Research methods were applied to thedevelopment of a survey. The paper will discuss several challenges to administering the survey,including recruitment and obtaining a large quantity of responses. The intent of the survey issimultaneously to provide feedback on the PBSL program and to provide insight on the longterm impact on alumni, especially when compared to other learning opportunities availableduring their undergraduate years. The survey was designed to identify candidates for follow-oninterviews to further explore the impact of the program. The quantitative and qualitative dataobtained in the survey and interviews will further contribute to the scholarship of engagementand learning.The results of the survey are significant and will be highlighted in the paper. These include thefinding that the PBSL program provides significant impact to the alumni’s subsequentprofessional experiences, and more impact when compared to other learning opportunities.

Cummings, A. T., & Huff, J., & Oakes, W. C., & Zoltowski, C. B. (2013, June), An Assessment Approach to Project-Based Service Learning Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19165

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