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An Interdisciplinary Project-based Service Learning and Action Research Project with Mechanical Engineering and Speech-language Pathology Students

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technical Session: Team/Project-based Pedagogy and Approaches

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


James D. Carrico University of Mary Orcid 16x16

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James Carrico is an Assistant Professor at the University of Mary. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah in 2018. The focus of his doctoral studies was the design, 3D printing, and control of ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) actuators, for use in soft robotics. His interests include engineering education, design, active polymers, additive manufacturing, and assistive technology.

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Javad Anjum University of Mary Orcid 16x16

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Javad Anjum is an Assistant Professor at the University of Mary. He worked as a physician in India and pursued clinical research in Neurophysiology. He then completed a PhD in Speech-Language Science from the Ohio University with research foci in aphasia and psycholinguistics. Javad’s current research interests are in understanding the impaired and unimpaired cognitive-linguistic processes in aphasia and developing assessment methods for evaluating language performance in people with brain injuries. He also has research interests in interprofessional education (IPE) with health sciences and engineering disciplines.

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Audra Anjum Ohio University

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Audra Anjum is an instructional designer in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. She works with faculty to design and redesign courses while following best practices in technology integration. Her research interests include learning aptitudes and facilitating classroom communication.

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The current paper addresses an imminent need for an action research study to systematically investigate the effectiveness of an interprofessional project-based service-learning experience in fostering collaboration, deep learning, teamwork, and communication between Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Speech Language Pathology (SLP) students. In the project, junior or senior level ME students collaborate with SLP students to develop manufacturing processes (especially utilizing 3D printing and other polymer processing methods) for in-house fabrication of low-cost, custom-made therapeutic material, for use at the SLP clinic and in the community. A convergent, parallel, mixed-methods approach was used to evaluate the design, implementation, and student experiences associated with this project, with particular emphasis on learning orientation and professional skills (especially teamwork and communication). The parallel collection of qualitative and quantitative data was accomplished through weekly questionnaires and indexing of team communications on a communication tool called Slack. Analyses and thematic classification of the self-reported questionnaire data and the student-generated Slack transcripts revealed that while the interprofessional PBSL project contributed to positive student attitudes, there was a mis-match in intended outcomes and student efforts. Consequently, interprofessional communication and focus on the project was irregular. Themes including interest in course content, a desire to collaborate with others, preparation for professional practice, a desire to help others, a desire to demonstrate one's own abilities, and a desire to keep professional commitments contributed to positive student attitude and motivation to excel. Challenges to collaboration included scheduling times to meet, understanding collaborator expectations, and meeting those expectations. For educators interested in including an interprofessional PBSL project in their course, we advise that project deliverables should match the technical outcomes of the course. (e.g. an interprofessional PBSL project in a manufacturing class should explicitly involve a manufacturing problem); the interprofessional PBSL project should be fully integrated into the class, such that technical content is instrumental to completion of the project; and regular interprofessional meeting times should be built into the class schedule.

Carrico, J. D., & Anjum, J., & Anjum, A. (2020, June), An Interdisciplinary Project-based Service Learning and Action Research Project with Mechanical Engineering and Speech-language Pathology Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34137

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