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Examining the Experiences of First-Year Honors Engineering Students in Service-Learning

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Conference

2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference

Location

Boulder, Colorado

Publication Date

March 25, 2018

Start Date

March 25, 2018

End Date

March 27, 2018

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29612

Download Count

46

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Paper Authors

biography

Ava Madeline Bellizzi

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Ava Bellizzi is an Honors student pursuing her dual BA/BS in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Mathematics at the University of San Diego. Specifically, she aspires to dedicate her efforts to the cause of human health by pursuing an engineering career in the medical device and biotechnology industries. Ava’s research interests include engineering education and the applications of mechanics to breakthroughs in medicine.

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Susan M Lord University of San Diego

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Susan M. Lord received a B.S. from Cornell University and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of San Diego. Her teaching and research interests include electronics, optoelectronics, materials science, first year engineering courses, feminist and liberative pedagogies, engineering student persistence, and student autonomy. Her research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Lord is a fellow of the ASEE and IEEE and is active in the engineering education community including serving as General Co-Chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, on the FIE Steering Committee, and as President of the IEEE Education Society for 2009-2010. She is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education. She and her coauthors were awarded the 2011 Wickenden Award for the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education and the 2011 Best Paper Award for the IEEE Transactions on Education. In Spring 2012, Dr. Lord spent a sabbatical at Southeast University in Nanjing, China teaching and doing research.

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Elizabeth A. Reddy University of San Diego

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Elizabeth Reddy is a post-doctoral research associate at the University of San Diego’s Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering. She is a social scientist, holding a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California at Irvine and an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. She is Co-Chair of the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing in the American Anthropological Association. She studies experts and their work in relation to environments, technologies, and human lives. Her current research projects deal with earthquake risk management technology in Mexico and the United States, environmental data justice in the US/Mexican borderlands, and the development and practice of engineering expertise.

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Abstract

While research-projects and skill-based courses are critical in engineering and computer science curricula, service-learning has been highlighted as a worthwhile experience for all students. Specifically, this pedagogy has been shown to be beneficial in helping students from underrepresented groups who typically lack opportunities to gain technical experience prior to embarking on higher education garner experience in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). This research study explores the experiences of a small group of Introduction to Engineering Honors students during Fall 2016 and Fall 2017. Working in teams within their respective classes, both sets of students were required to design and execute a service-learning project aimed at teaching middle-school aged children about STEAM. This mandatory project entailed creating a presentation and preparing a hands-on activity to be presented at an afterschool program at a local center for adolescents. The goals of this service-learning experience for both parties were mutual. Through their participation, the Honors engineering and computer science students gained experience in strategic teamwork and effective communication with a non-technical audience and developed a clear self-concept regarding their motivations and goals in pursuing engineering or computer science. Simultaneously, the middle-school aged teenagers at the center for adolescents gained exposure to the work of engineers and computer scientists and a glimpse into the life of a college student, meeting the surrounding low income, low access community’s need to increase students’ interest in STEAM fields and motivation to pursue higher education. Upon completing their service-learning presentation, each engineering student will be administered a survey calling them to reflect on their experience and how relevant they feel it is to their formation and goals as engineers and computer scientists. One key point to note is that the primary researcher was one of the college students surveyed in the first group of participants. Students in the second group of participants will also be given the opportunity to participate in a focus group, where they will be encouraged to think deeper about their experience working with the local adolescents, their aspirations in engineering or computer science, and the key points they took away from the project that are applicable to their professional careers. All students’ responses will be analyzed with special interest paid to how students’ experiences differed based on their gender, past engineering or computer science experiences, and future goals. It is important to note that this study is a work-in-progress.

Bellizzi, A. M., & Lord, S. M., & Reddy, E. A. (2018, March), Examining the Experiences of First-Year Honors Engineering Students in Service-Learning Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference, Boulder, Colorado. https://peer.asee.org/29612

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