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Effects Of Service Learning Implemented In An Introductory Engineering Course On Student Attitudes And Abilities In The Context Of Abet Outcomes

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Service Learning and Societal Issues in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.446.1 - 15.446.17



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Paper Authors


Carol Sevier Boise State University

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Carol Sevier is the Freshman Engineering Coordinator at Boise State University. She received her BS in Electrical Engineering from South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD. She was employed at Hewlett Packard for 16 years where she held a variety of positions in Quality Assurance, Manufacturing and Marketing. She also served as the Development Director at the Discovery Center of Idaho, a hands-on science center. Carol introduced service learning into the Introduction to Engineering course during the spring 2009 semester. She continues to expand and refine the program.

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Seung Youn Chyung Boise State University

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Seung Youn (Yonnie) Chyung is Associate Professor in the Department of Instructional and Performance Technology at Boise State University. She received her Doctor of Education degree in Instructional Technology from Texas Tech University. Dr. Chyung teaches courses on evaluation methodology and e-learning principles. Her research interests include the development of self-regulated e-learning strategies for adult learners, the use of pre-instructional strategies in e-learning, the facilitation of workplace informal learning methods, and the use of technologies for organizational performance improvement.

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Cheryl Schrader Boise State University

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Cheryl B. Schrader is Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boise State University. Dean Schrader has an extensive record of publications and sponsored research in the systems, control and education fields and serves on professional accreditation committees. Dean Schrader received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Valparaiso University, and her M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Ph.D. in Systems and Control, both from the University of Notre Dame.

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Janet Callahan Boise State University Orcid 16x16

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Janet Callahan is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the College of Engineering at Boise State University and a Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department. Dr. Callahan received her Ph.D. in Materials Science, her M.S. in Metallurgy and her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut. Her educational research interests include freshmen engineering programs, math success, K-12 STEM curriculum and accreditation, and retention and recruitment of STEM majors. She is an ABET program evaluator for ceramic engineering, chemical engineering and materials science and engineering programs.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Effects of Service Learning Implemented in an Introductory Engineering Course on Student Attitudes and Abilities in the Context of ABET Outcomes


A semester-long, quasi-experimental study with 119 students enrolled in seven sections of an Introduction to Engineering course at Boise State University was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of using a service learning (SL) method on improving student learning, compared to the effectiveness of using a conventional, non-service-learning (NSL) method. The experimental SL group consisted of two of the seven sections of the course, and the NSL group as a comparison group consisted of the other five sections of the course. Although both SL and NSL groups of students participated in collaborative project-based learning environments to complete given assignments, the types of collaborative learning differed in several ways: 1) The SL students completed one comprehensive project for 7 ½ weeks, whereas the NSL students completed a series of small scale problem-solving projects, 2) The SL students worked with the same members of a team throughout the project, whereas the NSL students worked with different team members for each project (teams of four members worked on the SL project, and teams of three members completed the NSL projects), and 3) Each SL team worked with a client from the community to solve a real problem (i.e., real-world learning experience), whereas NSL teams solved a series of projects based on written directions without input and guidance from real clients (i.e., a lack of real-world learning experience). Results showed that the SL method was significantly more effective than the NSL method in terms of 1) positively influencing students’ motivational attitudes toward collaborative project-based learning and 2) improving their self- assessment of engineering abilities measured against ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission program outcomes.

Theoretical Frameworks

What Is Service Learning?

Service learning (SL) is a type of experiential learning method in which students work collaboratively with others, often in a team, applying their knowledge and skills to solve problems in the community. There are numerous potential benefits of using SL in engineering education. SL helps students understand the societal context of engineering by working with clients from the community and solving their problems. SL often uses problem-based approaches to learning, which emphasizes the importance of practical experience in learning and is organized around the investigation of the problem and development of meaningful solutions to the problem.1

Engineers are essentially problem solvers; they apply knowledge of math and science to solve the problems for clients or to improve our daily lives. In a traditional educational setting, students are taught foundational analytical skills and scientific concepts through textbooks, lectures and practice with textbook-based theoretical problem solving. By incorporating SL into the classroom, students have an opportunity to apply their knowledge to solve an open-ended,

Sevier, C., & Chyung, S. Y., & Schrader, C., & Callahan, J. (2010, June), Effects Of Service Learning Implemented In An Introductory Engineering Course On Student Attitudes And Abilities In The Context Of Abet Outcomes Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15832

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