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Effects of Service-Learning Projects on Capstone Student Motivation

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Design II

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jason Forsyth York College of Pennsylvania

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Jason Forsyth is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at York College of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD from Virginia Tech in May 2015. His major research interests are in wearable and pervasive computing. His work focuses on developing novel prototype tools and techniques for interdisciplinary teams.

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Mark M. Budnik Valparaiso University

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Mark M. Budnik is Paul H. Brandt Professor of Engineering at Valparaiso University. Prior to joining the faculty at Valparaiso University in 2006, Mark worked in the semiconductor industry, culminating as a Principal Engineer and Director of White Goods and Motor Control at Hitachi Semiconductor. He is the author of more than fifty book chapters, journal articles, and conference proceedings. Mark’s current research interests are in the field of creativity and innovation instruction. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Fellow of the International Symposium on Quality Electronic Design.

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Randi Shedlosky-Shoemaker York College of Pennsylvania


Jeffrey Will Valparaiso University

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Jeff Will completed his B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has been a full-time faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Valparaiso University since August of 2001. He teaches courses in senior design, computer architecture, digital signal processing, freshman topics, and circuits laboratories and is heavily involved in working with students in undergraduate research. Will is also a 2013 recipient of the Illinois-Indiana ASEE Section Outstanding Teacher Award and the 2014 ASEE National Outstanding Teaching Award.
Upon coming to Valparaiso University, Will established the Scientific Visualization Laboratory (SVL), a facility dedicated to the use of Virtual Reality (VR) for undergraduate education. Working exclusively with undergraduate students, Will developed VR hardware and software to be used in undergraduate STEM curricula. Under his direction, his students have developed over fourteen different software packages to be used in such educational fields as electromagnetics, vector calculus, statics, and materials science: all topics where students can benefit from a rich visual experience. Will currently advises twelve undergraduates in scientific visualization projects. Additionally, Will is an avid collaborator with colleagues outside the engineering discipline and has demonstrated visualization and virtual reality applications in psychology, foreign languages, photography, drawing, music, and library science. He is co-author of the textbook “Developing Virtual Reality Applications” and has published numerous pedagogical articles on the use of virtual reality for teaching. His contributions range from U.S. Patents to art exhibits.
Will is active in K-12 outreach efforts where his Virtual Reality system serves as a vehicle to interest students in STEM fields. He has given hundreds of demonstrations of the system to over 1200 visitors and works closely with local schools, especially those with underserved populations. He is active in partnering with the Valparaiso Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Chapter to mentor and provide visit days to middle-school girls. He has also worked with colleagues at Iowa State to develop the educational program “Boomtown,” with the goal of interesting middle-school girls in computer programming.
Will has been an active member of ASEE throughout his professional career, serving as an officer in his local section from 2002-2007 (Chair in 2005) and attending and publishing at national and sectional conferences.

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Many engineering programs incorporate project-based, service learning into traditional classes and capstone experience. These projects focus on service-related challenges that impact the local, national, or international community and could be described as “humanitarian” or “for the greater good”. While these projects have shown positive benefits for recruitment, retention, and student diversity, what has been unexamined is whether student motivations in these projects differ from their peers in more traditional capstone projects. We hypothesize that students in service-oriented capstone projects may feel greater motivation and engagement with their project due to its service components as compared to their peers in other capstone projects.

We address this question by examining the experiences of capstone students at two different institutions. York College of Pennsylvania and Valparaiso University are both small, comprehensive, private universities with engineering programs that engage in a variety of capstone projects. At each institution we administered surveys with capstone students to assess their interests, motivations, and engagement in their capstone projects. By comparing student responses and evaluating the level of service that each project embodies, we can assess whether students in differing projects show different motivations. Our results provide insights into methods for maintaining student success in capstone projects and for selecting future projects.

Forsyth, J., & Budnik, M. M., & Shedlosky-Shoemaker, R., & Will, J. (2018, June), Effects of Service-Learning Projects on Capstone Student Motivation Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30364

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