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Faculty Views Of Service Learning In Mechanical Engineering At Mit

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Experiential Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.625.1 - 10.625.12



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Paper Authors

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Sumedha Ariely

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Barbara Masi

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David Wallace

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Amy Banzaert

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

Faculty Views of Service Learning in Mechanical Engineering at MIT

Amy Banzaert, Sumi Ariely, David Wallace, Barbara Masi

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract An initial effort is being made in MIT’s undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum to develop archetypes and resources for using service learning broadly in different types of engineering classes: design, analysis-based engineering science, and experimental lab courses. As a preliminary step, departmental faculty were surveyed on their attitudes about service learning to assure that implementation efforts fit the department’s needs: 72% of the department (N=54) responded, a representative group in terms of research focus, gender, and tenure level, indicating that 80% of faculty are open to the use of service learning. However, 52% expressed concerns about time constraints and 56% needed support finding suitable projects for technical classes. If this type of support, including methods to mitigate time constraints, were available, faculty were interested in the practice. Surveyed faculty considered service learning most appropriate for design classes, but were open to the practice in other classes if suitable projects were available.

Introduction Service learning is a teaching method that integrates academically-appropriate community service projects into the curriculum of a class. Service learning research shows that it can offer a wide variety of pedagogical benefits, including improved understanding of course material, increased motivation for learning subject material, and enhanced appreciation for the ethical role and implications of their profession1.

At MIT, service learning was first used deliberately in a mechanical engineering class in the spring of 2002, and since then has been implemented in a few mechanical engineering subjects, all in design and manufacturing subject areas. Written post-surveys given to students following three of the classes and informal conversations show mixed success. On average, students reported that they found service learning worthwhile, and benefited through improved interactions with their peers and instructors, motivation toward the class, and interest in community service. In terms of learning gains, on four different scaled questions about direct academic benefit, responses were mixed: students were mildly positive for two questions and mildly negative on two other questions. Additionally, there were wide ranges in student responses, with many extremely positive toward service learning, and a few extremely negative. Faculty attitudes were measured informally: we found that when the project matched the class curriculum well and the community partnership was strong, the faculty were very pleased with service learning; when either or both of these criteria were not met, faculty were understandably much less enthusiastic. Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Ariely, S., & Masi, B., & Wallace, D., & Banzaert, A. (2005, June), Faculty Views Of Service Learning In Mechanical Engineering At Mit Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14482

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