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Integration Of Service Learning Into A Freshman Engineering Course

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Unique Courses & Services for Freshmen

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.784.1 - 9.784.27



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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

Session 3453

Integration of Service Learning into a Freshman Engineering Course

William Oakes & Michael Thompson Purdue University


Service learning (SL) is a pedagogy that integrates community service into the academic experience. Studies have shown that service learning can positively impact student learning, provides a rich environment for students to learn the “soft” skills that are often difficult to teach in traditional classes, can increase retention in participants, and can broaden the view of engineering among the participants. Service-learning can greatly enhance the services of local community service organizations that lack the technical staffs and/or resources to take full advantage of current technology. The potential benefits of service learning have motivated the Department of Freshman Engineering at Purdue to begin implementing service learning into the first-year engineering courses. 143 students participated in an service-learning experience at Purdue University in the Fall semester of 2003. Student and community partner evaluations have shown initial success and in depth investigations are underway to characterize these experiences.


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 will need when they enter the workplace (ASEE, 1994; ASEE, 1995; Dahir, 1993; Hissey, 2000; Peterson, 1993; Valenti, 1996; Fromm 2003). 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” (ABET, 2000; ABET, 2002). Under EC 2000, in addition to “traditional” engineering knowledge of mathematics, science, and 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 a knowledge of contemporary issues. While recognizing its importance 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 practices (Hughes, 2001). “Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education"

Thompson, M., & Oakes, W. (2004, June), Integration Of Service Learning Into A Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13296

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