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Designing Short-Term Study Abroad Engineering Experiences to Achieve Global Competencies

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2013 ASEE International Forum


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 22, 2013

Start Date

June 22, 2013

End Date

June 22, 2013

Conference Session

Track 1 - Session II - Student Development

Tagged Topic

Student Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

21.19.1 - 21.19.24



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Paper Authors


Edward J. Berger University of Virginia Orcid 16x16

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Edward Berger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia, and he is also currently the Associate Dean for the Undergraduate Program. He does technical research in the area of dynamic friction, the mechanics of built-up structures, and tribology, with his educational research focused on technology-based interventions and pedagogies for sophomore mechanics courses. He has created and delivered study abroad experiences in Panama for the past three years, and has also taught on Semester at Sea.

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Reid Bailey University of Virginia

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Reid Bailey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Systems and Information Engineering at the University of Virginia. Previously, he has held faculty positions centered on engineering design at the University of Arizona and the University of Dayton. He received his MSME and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1997 and 2000 and his BSE in mechanical engineering from Duke University in 1995. Concerning study abroad, Reid created a engineering program in Argentina for the University of Virginia and has taught on Semester at Sea.

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Designing Short-term Study Abroad Engineering Experiences to Achieve Global Competencies (Student Development Track)International experiences for engineering students are rapidly becoming more common. Whilemany factors are driving this change, one key factor is the growth of short-term study abroadexperiences that do not interfere with the typically constrained schedule of engineering students.This paper compares the assessment of a wide range of student learning outcomes associatedwith two engineering short-term study abroad courses, one taught in Argentina and one taught inPanama. The two courses are structured quite differently in both content and pedagogy, andeach contains a set of course-specific learning outcomes. However, both also share ourUniversity's set of Global Competency Outcomes (GCOs).The Argentina program is an interdisciplinary project-based class. Students work in teams onprojects at wineries in Mendoza, Argentina. Students from all disciplines are invited to apply,with engineering and undergraduate business students being the two largest groups. Most “classtime” is spent either at the client sites or working within their project team. Faculty take the roleof mentors and coaches, advising students as they progress through their projects. The projectsare diverse, including manufacturing operations, sales, logistics, and tourism. Most projectsresult in the team delivering recommendations, decision support tools, or information systems tothe clients. The final deliverables are both client-focused: a report and a briefing.The Panama program focuses on the history and modern impact of the Panama Canal, and istaught in a short-term format (about 2 weeks) in January. The course uses field trips to keylocations, interactions with Canal engineers, construction site visits, and lengthy discussion anddeliberation to explore the complicated and rich history of the Canal as a sociotechnical system.Readings from both popular culture and the scholarly literature illuminate key issues andstimulate wide-ranging discussions of politics, economics, race, culture, equity, and justice.Students write multiple papers including a final integrative essay that expresses the full breadthof the course's impact on them, both academically and personally.The GCOs defined by our University fall into five broad categories: knowledge anddevelopment of a global frame of reference; attitude toward cultural differences; attitude towardpersonal growth; skills concerning communication, adaptation, and interaction across cultures;action in seeking out opportunities for engagement. Each of these categories has specificlearning outcomes underneath them, as well as suggested evaluation strategies.This paper describes in detail how each program was structured differently to address the GCOs,giving specific instances of how these learning outcomes are targeted with course experiences,how they are assessed, and what outcomes are actually achieved. Assessment of studentachievement of the GCOs is compared between the programs. This comparison shows multiplepaths to reaching GCOs in short-term study abroad courses and also reveals insights as to therelative strengths of the different structures of the two programs.

Berger, E. J., & Bailey, R. (2013, June), Designing Short-Term Study Abroad Engineering Experiences to Achieve Global Competencies Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--17224

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