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Institutionalizing Service Learning Into A First Year Engineering Curriculum

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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

Social Responsibility & Professionalism

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.773.1 - 10.773.12



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Paper Authors

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Michael Thompson

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

Institutionalizing Service-Learning into a First-Year Engineering Curriculum

William Oakes and Michael Thompson Purdue University

Introduction Over the past ten years, engineering has been undergoing a reform of its educational models. We have seen a significant increase in emphasis on design and on the wide range of skills that engineering students need when they enter the workplace1-6 .Among the most dramatic statements about these skills has been the set of program outcomes at the heart of the engineering accreditation guidelines that went into effect in 2000, dubbed “Engineering Criteria 2000”7. These criteria, in addition to “traditional” engineering knowledge of mathematics, science, engineering and experience in engineering problem solving and system design, students are mandated to be able to function on multidisciplinary teams, to communicate effectively, and to understand a wide range of issues in engineering. These issues include: professional and ethical responsibility, the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context, and knowledge of contemporary issues. While recognizing the importance of these issues within the engineering curriculum, many departments find it difficult to effectively integrate experiences that include the full spectrum of professional or “soft” skills that simulate current industrial practices8. Service-learning integrates community service with academic learning and provides a pedagogy that allows for an easier integration of these professional skills as students learn the academic content.

Service-learning also has the potential to impact other current issues in engineering education which include the declining interest in engineering among pre-college students and the continued under-representation of women and students of color. The service-learning pedagogy is very well matched with the literature on recruitment and retention of women in science and engineering with its social context; emphasis on general educational goals including communication; employment of cooperative and interdisciplinary approaches; and problems with a “holistic, global scope”9-11. Matyas and Malcolm12 and Oakes, Gamoran, and Page13 suggest that many of the same factors are relevant for attracting and retaining minorities. In a UCLA study of retention of engineers in general, it is suggested that one factor contributing to engineering’s low retention rates is the failure of engineering faculty to value such educational goals as teaching personal values, enhancing self-understanding, and supporting emotional development14. Service-learning integrates all of these aspects and has proven to be effective in enhancing learning.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education"

Thompson, M., & Oakes, W. (2005, June), Institutionalizing Service Learning Into A First Year Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15289

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