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Integrated Service-Learning: Students Perspectives

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.767.1 - 23.767.18



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Paper Authors


Emmanuelle Reynaud University of Massachusetts, Lowell

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Dr. E. Reynaud is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

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Linda Barrington University of Massachusetts, Lowell

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Linda Barrington is the Francis College of Engineering service-learning coordinator.

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Ella Willard-Schmoe University of Massachusetts Lowell

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Ella Willard-Schmoe is a graduate research assistant of Solar Energy Engineering.

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Integrated Service-Learning: Student PerspectivesService-Learning (S-L) has been integrated throughout a College of Engineering at a mid-sizestate university for eight years. The S-L program has been supported by three grants from theNational Science Foundation. In this effort, the S-L projects are hands-on experiences in corecourses of every engineering department, aiming at responding to community needs. Thecommunity partners can be local, national or international. Most of the S-L projects, as currentlyimplemented, require the students to assess the engineering components of the community needs,to design solutions to those needs, and eventually to produce a deliverable. The learningmechanism on the S-L experience is left at the discretion of the instructor.Since the implementation of the S-L program, the students have been surveyed annuallyregarding both their conception of S-L and the impact of S-L on their learning. We are reportinghere on the results of the 2011-2012 academic years.The latest student survey includes the response of 863 participants, amongst which 105 female(12.2%) and 85 other underrepresented (9.8%). Amongst those surveyed in the spring of 2012,32.7% were working at least 11 hours a week at a paid job, 50% of them were taking between 15and 17 credits of courses a semester. For those eligible to vote, 61.7% of them did not vote in arecent public election. A majority of them (53%) report having participated in one to three S-Lprojects, 30% report more than three, and 17% none.The participants considered security as the most important career value, and income as the leastimportant value (similarly as what has been observed in previous years surveys). The studentsare on average in agreement with the principles of the S-L implementation and activities. Inparticular, they express strong feelings to the benefits of hands-on experience (7.7 on a 9 pointLikert scale). Students are divided though on the mandatory nature of the S-L implementation, astheir mean score is 5.15 (not significantly different from 5 at a 5% risk level) on a Likert scale.Regarding the impact of S-L on their learning, the mean answers of the students were positive (atthe 5% statistical level); in particular the students valued the team work experience that S-Lprovides, and the positive view that it shines on the engineering profession.We finally focus the study on quality of the learning mechanisms as expressed by the students.We build the analysis on the students’ optional comments, classifying them into positive, neutraland negative. We relate the comments’ tone to the learning mechanisms, e.g. in-class discussion,presentation, journal writing, report writing, other type of writing. Students engaged in no formalassessment exercise report no positive comments. The exercises which lead to a betterappreciation of the S-L experience are first report writing, followed by discussion andpresentation. Overall, students are more appreciative of the S-L experience when engaged inmore than one formal learning mechanism. Those findings underline the importance of formalassessment modules in the S-L implementation.

Reynaud, E., & Barrington, L., & Willard-Schmoe, E. (2013, June), Integrated Service-Learning: Students Perspectives Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19781

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