June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Cooperative & Experiential Education
22.258.1 - 22.258.21
Assessment of Service Learning & Engineering at Miami University Mysore Narayanan Miami University, OhioAbstract Service-learning has been gaining popularity in engineering disciplines, slowlybut steadily. It is quite important that universities have to adapt to changes in order tomake higher education more effective. Therefore it is apparent that students learn best,when they are provided with an opportunity to utilize their knowledge to help a selectcommunity. Honnet and Poulsen indicate that service to a community adds value to thelearner’s educational accomplishments. At Miami University, which is primarily aliberal arts university, the author prefers to place service learning as a mechanismwherein the student learners shall mentor and guide so as to empower others to helpthemselves. Eyler and Giles are of the opinion that service learning relieves the studentsof the monotony of routine classroom work and learning disengagement. The authorbelieves that service learning helps to rekindle the social consciousness of the studentlearner. Furthermore, the author promotes designing of service-learning programs that canmake a significant impact in the area of social activism. Regardless, since the UnitedStates thrives on a market-driven economy, service-learning course curriculum contentmust be designed with due regard to the applicability of such economic educationalphilosophies. This has been substantiated by Alexander Astin's research for instance. He hasshown that commitment to service tends to be lowest at institutions that place "resourceacquisition" as a top priority. The service-learning opportunities at colleges &Universities should be aimed at the development of the civic education of studentlearners however, the service-learning course must nevertheless be focused on careerpreparation of the college students as well. Furthermore it must be clearly acceptable tothe appropriate accreditation agencies. The Senior Design Project Class, which is atwo-semester long course, with a total of four credit hours, can be viewed as a servicelearning class, depending upon the project chosen by the select student group. It doescontain a substantial amount of education about ethics, ergonomics, economics, sociologyand liberal education principles, in addition to rigorous engineering subject matter. Thestudent groups are encouraged to appreciate the realities of socio-economic impact oftheir chosen project. In many cases, the project will have to be addressed with a strongwill to succeed and necessarily require coalitions of volunteerism industry sponsoredfunding and donated resources. The objective of a select group of senior design projectstudents is to appreciate the aspect of service and reinforce the reality of viable ethical,ergonomic and economic engineering design. In this paper the author attempts to outline the efforts of the engineeringtechnology department in assessing and promoting service learning at Miami University.
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