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Case Study Of A Project For First Year Students That Integrates Research And Community Service

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Technology in Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.292.1 - 9.292.6



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Case Study of a Project for First-Year Students that Integrates Research and Community Service

Christopher W. Swan Tufts University


Over the last 20 years, recycling programs have developed throughout the United States and internationally. However, once the “recycled” material is placed at the curbside or brought to the recycling center, what happens next? Researching and describing recycling was the project aimed at providing first-year engineering students a “window on research”. The students were tasked to develop a poster document and presentation to use to inform community policy makers and citizens on the recycling behavior in Massachusetts. Project objectives were to introduce students to the technical and non- technical aspects of recycling and/or reusing waste materials as well as to introduce students to the “process” of research.

This paper describes the “Windows on Research” advising program used at Tufts University and the specific case of a research project on recycling in Massachusetts used in the program. Research process and results are presented, and the show that simple relationships between community and recycling characteristics may not adequately explain recycling behavior. This paper also discusses issues involved in using aspects of community-service to increase student interest in participating in research at this early stage in their academic careers.


Tufts University has a number of unique advising program for entering first-year students. One of the options is “Window on Research” course which links a small group of students with faculty advisor who will expose the students to his/her research. During the Fall 2003 semester, the author lead such a “windows on research” effort that was focused on reuse options for waste materials. The objective of the course was two fold: 1. Introduce students to the processes involved in research. Specifically, it was expected that the students would be involved in hypothesis development, data collection, analysis, and synthesis. 2. Provide a common meeting time for student advising. This paper presents the results of this advising program as a case study. The advising program is briefly described and specific components of the developed “course” presented. The research process and its results are also presented and discussed. The use of community service to create a more engaging research atmosphere is also discussed.

Window on Research Advising Program

Swan, C. (2004, June), Case Study Of A Project For First Year Students That Integrates Research And Community Service Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13267

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