March 25, 2018
March 25, 2018
March 27, 2018
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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