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Engagement in Practice: Adding Service Learning to an Online Introduction to Engineering Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Jamie Douglas University of Wisconsin Colleges Online

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Jamie Douglas is an Associate Professor with the University of Wisconsin Colleges Online and at the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley. She completed a bachelor’s in civil/environmental engineering from the University of Illinois (UIUC) in 1998 and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2007. She currently lives in Appleton, WI with her husband and two children.

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A wide body of research shows increased student engagement and student retention from the use of high-impact practices such as learning communities, first-year experiences, undergraduate research, or service learning. However, many of these practices pose challenges on a virtual college campus or in an online classroom. This paper explores a case study where service learning projects were incorporated into two Introduction to Engineering classes, one taught in a traditional face-to-face format and the other taught online. In this case study, the face-to-face students worked in small groups with a local historical society to create interactive museum exhibits. The online students engaged in a wider variety of projects, either based in their home communities or matched with the community of the instructor. This paper explores some of the challenges involved with engaging online students with community-based service learning projects, including those that were unique to the online environment and those shared with the face-to-face class. This paper will also discuss lessons learned in adapting online groups to work on a service project and the importance of interpersonal dynamics with geographically dispersed team members. The two classes were similar in size and followed comparable course content in their respective modes of instruction. Assessment of the students and their progress is ongoing.

Douglas, J. (2017, June), Engagement in Practice: Adding Service Learning to an Online Introduction to Engineering Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28227

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