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Integrating Service Learning In The First Year Introduction To Engineering Course

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Potpourri of First-Year Issues

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.771.1 - 15.771.11



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Paper Authors

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Farid Farahmand Sonoma State University

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Saeid Moslehpour University of Hartford

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

Integrating Service-Learning in the First-Year Introduction to Engineering Course

1. Introduction

In the past several years community-based and service-learning curricula have received significant attentions. Through such programs, teams of students will engage in solving real-world problems benefiting their community. These programs provide unique opportunities for students to collaborate with diverse groups of community partners, develop professional skills and team work, participate in community building, improve leadership abilities, and learn project management.

This paper provides a brief description of a service-learning component that was integrated into the Introduction to Engineering course. Through this pilot project, engineering students were assigned to design a simple electro-mechanical throwing machine that can assist children with physical disabilities participating in the Sidekicks program. The Sidekicks program at Sonoma State University assists adolescents and children with autism and developmental disabilities to participate in recreational activities. Many of these individuals are not capable of fully participating in group activities. Existing studies suggest that increasing interactions among students with physical disabilities can considerably improve their peer interaction and social skills.

In the rest of this paper we elaborate on our methodology and outcomes and look at how the service-learning project improved communication and teamwork skills among participating engineering students.

2. Background

Service-learning is defined as a credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity in such a way that meets identified community needs 1. Studies suggest that service-learning can significantly impact various educational outcome measures, including academic performance (GPA, writing skills, critical thinking skills), values (commitment to activism and promoting racial understanding), self-efficacy, leadership, choice of a service career, and plans to participate in service after college 2.

In the past few years service-learning has become increasingly common pedagogy in engineering programs around the globe. One reason for its popularity is the industry’s desire for individuals with the communication and collaboration skills who are better equipped for working in a global context 3,4.

In the United States, many different universities have also incorporated service-learning into their curricula5. Perhaps the best well-known example is the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program8 created by Purdue University in 1995 and now it includes 18 universities. Under this program freshman to senior undergraduate engineering students form multi-disciplinary teams to meet community needs.

Farahmand, F., & Moslehpour, S. (2010, June), Integrating Service Learning In The First Year Introduction To Engineering Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15841

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