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Community Engagement and Service Learning: Putting Faces to a Community to Create Better Engineers

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Professional Skill Development

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

19

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32521

Download Count

4

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Paper Authors

biography

Kathryn Schulte Grahame Northeastern University

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Dr. Kathryn Schulte Grahame is an Associate Teaching Professor at Northeastern University and a member of the first-year engineering team. The focus of this team is on providing a consistent, comprehensive, and constructive educational experience that endorses the student-centered, professional and practice-oriented mission of Northeastern University. She teaches the Cornerstone of Engineering courses to first-year students as well as courses within the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. She is a recent recipient of the Outstanding Teacher of First-Year Students Award and is interested in research that compliments and informs her teaching.

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biography

Susan F. Freeman Northeastern University

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Susan Freeman, is a member of Northeastern University’s first-year engineering facutly, a group of teaching faculty expressly devoted to the first-year Engineering Program at Northeastern University. The focus of this team is on providing a consistent, comprehensive, and constructive educational experience that endorses the student-centered, professional and practice-oriented mission of Northeastern University.

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biography

Jake Alexander Levi Northeastern University

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I am a Computer Engineering & Computer Science student at Northeastern University.

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Abstract

This complete evidence-based practice paper presents how Service-Learning (S-L) helped first-year engineering students attending an urban institution to grow their concept of community. When S-L is incorporated into a first-year engineering design course, students expand their learning as they work and teach in the community. In addition, students get a chance to see and experience the greater community to which they belong. Through S-L, engineering students also learn about social issues and societal norms outside of the immediate boundaries of their university. This work aims to assess the level of our students’ presumptions of the surrounding communities, both before and after a S-L opportunity and presents evidence of students’ growth towards a more open mindset. First-year engineering students enrolled in a S-L section of an engineering design course at Northeastern University are required to complete mandatory service with community partners outside of class hours as part of their course assessment. Two instructors of the design course, Cornerstone of Engineering, added an additional element of S-L to their course to allow over 120 students this additional growth opportunity. Over 15 S-L sites were included in the community partnerships with two main foci: middle school robotics leagues and a community makerspace.

Two surveys (Pre and Post course) helped to identify initial impressions and changes in students’ (1) understanding of community partner’s geographic location, (2) impressions of location, (3) propensity to frequent a business in that location, and (4) knowledge of actual persons residing in the community. Students were asked to write reflections after S-L site visits which acted as assessments of their growth in understanding of course concepts. The reflections were also useful to see the students’ perception of professional growth and their perception of the community and their impact on it.

Initial surveys indicated that news and word of mouth stories played a large role in students’ impressions of the surrounding neighborhoods. As expected, the majority of students had not frequented a business or even ventured into the neighborhood, despite its close proximity to campus. Students frequently answered questions with an emotional distance between themselves and statements about the neighborhood. During the semester, reflection entries generally showed the majority of students reporting seeing the community differently, with significantly less negative commentary. After the course, they know people in the surrounding urban community and are more likely to frequent businesses there. After S-L the students start to lose the concept that the surrounding urban community is distinct from the university community. We conclude that the S-L opportunity forces our students out of their comfort zone, helping them to grow as engineers who are better prepared for future challenges.

Schulte Grahame, K., & Freeman, S. F., & Levi, J. A. (2019, June), Community Engagement and Service Learning: Putting Faces to a Community to Create Better Engineers Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32521

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015