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Assessing Impact without Using Grades: Quality Review of Community Engagement

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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

23.211.1 - 23.211.22



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Paper Authors


Theresa M. Vitolo Gannon University

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Dr. Theresa M. Vitolo is an associate professor in the Computer and Information Science Department of Gannon University at Erie, PA. Teaching in systems-related fields since 1986, she joined the Computer and Information Science Department at Gannon University in 1999. In addition to teaching, she has worked as a systems analyst/programmer on a variety of systems development projects. Her academic background includes a B.S.E. in Industrial Engineering and a Ph.D. in Information Science; her industry experience includes systems analysis and cognitive science applications. With a life-long interest in technology and its potential for enhancing human capabilities, her research includes intelligent interface design, motivated system energetics, and other topics relative to knowledge-intensive systems.

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Karinna M Vernaza Gannon University

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Dr. Karinna Vernaza joined Gannon University in 2003, she is currently an associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department, and serves as the interim associate dean for the College of Engineering and Business. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her B.S. is in Marine Systems Engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Her primary teaching responsibilities are in the solid mechanics and materials areas. She was awarded the 2012 ASEE NCS Outstanding Teacher Award. Vernaza consults for GE Transportation and does research in the area of alternative fuels (biodiesel), engineering education (project based learning and service learning), and high strain deformation of materials. She is one of the PIs of two NSF S-STEM grants and one NSF ADVANCE-PAID grant.

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Barry J Brinkman Gannon University


Scott E Steinbrink Gannon University

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Dr. Scott Steinbrink is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering.

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Assessing Impact without Using Grades: Quality Review of Community Engagement The Scholars for Excellence in Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS) programwas initiated in fall 2009 through NSF S-STEM grant funding. The interdisciplinary, multi-year,mixed academic-level program awarded scholarships to students based on academic merit andfinancial need. SEECS is an opportunity for students in the majors of computer science,electrical and computer engineering, environmental engineering, information systems,mechanical engineering, and software engineering at XXX. The goals of the scholarshipprogram are (1) to increase the number of academically talented, but financially disadvantagedstudents in the stated majors, (2) to assist students to be successful in their undergraduateeducation, and (3) to foster professional development for careers or graduate education. Thesegoals are realized through the students’ shared interactions within the SEECS seminar. Students awarded SEECS scholarships are required to attend a seminar where specificdevelopment and learning outcomes are realized in a team-based, project-based approach. TheSEECS zero-credit seminar is structured around three components: engineering design,professional development, and personal development – with the design component absorbing50% of the seminar’s focus. The design project is the kernel of the SEECS seminar. At this time, five design projectshave been fostered through the SEECS seminar, three fully implemented, one in the design anddeploy phase, and one in the identification stage. Each project supported different non-profitorganizations, complemented different distributions of majors, and required different technicalcompetencies. Although structurally vastly different, all five projects have achieved the aims ofthe SEECS program. Furthermore, the projects are more significant than simply a deliverable:(1) the students gain professional identity and confidence through its development; (2) thefaculty enjoy the satisfaction of engaging students in the profession, (3) the project manifests theuniversity’s commitment to service and regional outreach, and (4) the regional non-profit valuesthe expertise and professionalism delivered to their needs. To date, however, no assessment of the projects as part of an engagement process hasoccurred. Rather, each project is viewed as successful upon completion of its structure anddelivery of its functioning. As the SEECS faculty move forward with the seminar, a morecomplete and quantifiable assessment plan is defined. The assessment plan focuses not only onthe product delivered but also appraises the process supporting the development of the productfrom initiation to delivery. A fundamental element of the process being appraised is the qualityof the relationships between the site, the students, the SEECS faculty, and the university. The following paper presents the assessment plan developed and deployed by the grantco-PIs to assess the projects and the processes. Elements of the assessment plan were conceivedas a result of the guidance provided at the Engineering Faculty Engagement in Learning ThroughService (EFELTS) Workshop, August 9-10, 2012, Houghton, MI. The workshop suggested aperspective for broadening assessment targets. With this, the SEECS seminar now employs amore comprehensive quality-review process. Data for the five completed projects are presentedand the value of the assessment strategy is discussed.

Vitolo, T. M., & Vernaza, K. M., & Brinkman, B. J., & Steinbrink, S. E. (2013, June), Assessing Impact without Using Grades: Quality Review of Community Engagement Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19225

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