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How And To What Extent Does A Service Learning Pedagogy Enhance Communication And Collaborative Skill Learning Among First Year Students?

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Communication and Collaboration

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.671.1 - 14.671.16

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Paper Authors


Sally Blomstrom Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Sally Blomstrom, Ph. D., is an associate professor teaching communication courses at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ. Her background in industry provided many opportunities to put her degrees in communication to practical use. She includes service-learning as an integral part of her pedagogy, and she investigates the effectiveness of service-learning to inform her teaching.

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Hak Tam University of California, Santa Barbara

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Hak Tam is completing his Ph. D. in Education at UCSB. He earned a BSEE and MSEE from the University of Wisconsin. He earned his MBA from Seattle University. His background in industry combines biomedical engineering with international marketing and sales. His dissertation research looks at entrepreneurial education. He has research interests in service-learning and experiential education.

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

How and to What Extent Does a Service-Learning Pedagogy Enhance Communication and Collaborative Skill Learning Among First Year Students?


All engineering students at our institution are required to take a course in speech. Some of the student learning outcomes for the course relate to the learning outcomes identified in category 3 of the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation requirements (2001) [1]. Specifically, ABET expects that “Engineering programs must demonstrate that their students attain the following outcomes: Category 3(d) an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams and… (g) an ability to communicate effectively”. In this study, we examine the gains in communication and team skills in different sections of a required speech course. The students enrolled in these sections are primarily freshmen. Most of them are engineering and aviation majors. The course is taught by different instructors using the same textbook and syllabus. Three of these sections included a service-learning component. This paper examines whether the course achieves the ABET 3(d) and 3 (g) objectives from the students’ perspective. We also look at the similarities and differences between the sections utilizing service-learning and those that use other pedagogies.

Review of Literature

This paper grew out of an assessment project focusing on the basic speech course. To frame the assessment process, two the paradigms of assessment were identified by Ewell [2]. While we set to provide information to instructors and administrators for the purpose of continuous improvement, it was possible the results could also be used to address accountability. The overall assessment plan included direct and indirect measures gathered as formative and summative assessments using quantitative and qualitative assessments [3]. The portion of the plan presented in this paper is a quantitative, indirect assessment used as a pretest and posttest. We recognized the importance of alignment [4] and examined the university’s mission, the general education goals, and the student learning outcomes for the course. The instrument used in this study was developed to align with the course outcomes and the course content. Evaluation forms used by the instructor, the student for her/his own reflection, peers, and audience members were developed to reflect the same criteria. The instrument reported on in this paper reflects student perceptions on criteria that were reinforced throughout the course. While the literature in communication indicates that assessment is an important component of the basic course, no specific measures were identified for assessment [5]. Because we were interested in service-learning as a variable we investigated how assessment had been conducted for service-learning in communication. Many respondents in a survey reported that student activity reports and/or site supervisor evaluations were used to assess learning [6]. While the qualitative data provided from measures such as those can be very useful to the instructor, the findings make comparisons difficult. Neither the literature from communication or service- learning indicated a standardized instrument was used for assessment. To address this gap we developed a theoretical framework and methods using discipline-defined criteria to assess learning in communication [7]-[9]. We employed a survey used as a pre-test and post-test self-

Blomstrom, S., & Tam, H. (2009, June), How And To What Extent Does A Service Learning Pedagogy Enhance Communication And Collaborative Skill Learning Among First Year Students? Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015