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Interactive Session: Measuring the Impact of Connection to Community

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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

INTERACTIVE SESSION – Measuring the Impact on Communities

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.795.1 - 23.795.19



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Paper Authors


Rebecca A Bates Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Dr. Rebecca A. Bates received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2004. She also received the M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1993. She is currently professor and chair of the Department of Integrated Engineering program at Minnesota State University at Mankato. She was a 2011-12 AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation.

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Julie P Martin Clemson University


Denise Wilson University of Washington

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Dr. Denise Wilson received the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 1988 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1989 and 1995, respectively. She also earned her M.Ed. from the University of Washington in 2008 and has worked in Applied Materials. She is currently a faculty member with the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Washington, Seattle, and she was previously with the University of Kentucky, Lexington, in a similar position from 1996 to 1999. Her research interests are split between technical investment in biological and chemical-sensing microsystems and equivalent interest in engineering education, with particular emphasis on affective and metacognitive factors that influence student success in STEM fields.

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Melani Plett Seattle Pacific University

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Tamara Floyd Smith Tuskegee University

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Interactive  Session:  Measuring  the  Impact  of  Connection  to  Community    The  value  of  community  engagement  in  engineering  learning  is  becoming  more  apparent.    The  number  of  service  learning,  engineering  without  borders,  international  experiences,  and  other  community  engagement  programs  is  increasing,  while  the  impact  of  such  programs  broadens  from  local  communities  to  international  experiences.    This  raises  questions  about  how  we  assess  the  value  of  these  programs  for  our  students.    This  special  session  and  accompanying  resource  paper  will  include  presentations  about  methods  used  in  research  to  assess  the  impact  and  importance  of  community  and  social  interaction  for  engineering  students.    Information  about  quantitative,  qualitative  and  mixed-­‐methods  approaches  for  assessing  social  capital,  belonging,  and  psychological  sense  of  community  as  well  as  the  relationship  between  these  factors  and  student  engagement  in  academic  work  will  be  presented.    Researchers  from  two  separate  studies  will  present  methodologies  and  results  from  their  past  work  and  support  the  movement  of  their  foundational  research  in  academic  engineering  experience  to  programs  that  engage  directly  with  the  broader  social  community.    Study  1:  Research  on  the  impact  of  connections  to  community  has  shown  the  value  of  these  connections  to  student  participation  in  their  academic  programs,  through  qualitative,  quantitative,  and  mixed  method  approaches.    Across  a  range  of  institution  types,  family  is  the  community  to  which  students  feel  most  connected.      More  importantly,  students  are  often  strategic  about  how  they  spend  their  limited  free  time  in  order  to  fulfill  the  basic  human  need  of  belonging  in  the  context  of  strenuous  academic  programs.    This  research  has  shown  that  participation  is  linked  with  stronger  engagement  in  academic  pursuits,  suggesting  that  organized  community  activities  directly  associated  with  engineering  programs  may  support  fulfilling  belong,  esteem  and  safety  needs  of  students.    Study  2:  Engineering  students’  development  and  usage  of  social  capital  can  be  influential  on  their  decisions  to  select  engineering  as  a  college  major  and  persist  at  the  undergraduate  level.  The  communities  (e.g.  family,  school  personnel,  friends)  to  which  students  have  access  and  the  degree  to  which  they  are  integrated  into  these  communities  can  have  differential  impact  on  the  resources  available  to  them  related  to  pursuing  engineering.  The  ways  in  which  students  develop  social  capital  and  the  degree  to  which  they  activate  resources  during  their  undergraduate  experience  are  also  influenced  by  their  strength  of  ties  with  related  communities.    The  paper  associated  with  this  interactive,  full  length  session  will  include  background  information  supporting  the  importance  of  community  engagement,  information  about  methods  and  research  instruments,  potential  challenges  with  institutional  review  boards,  result  highlights  of  the  research  studies  and  suggested  assessment  resources.          In  the  interactive  session,  40  minutes  will  be  allocated  for  overviews  of  methods,  presentations  of  results  and  discussion  of  the  impact  of  social  capital  and  community  connections  for  engineering  students.    The  remaining  35  minutes  will  be  used  for  interaction,  brainstorming  and  discussion  supporting  rigorous  evaluation  of  community  engagement.    Participants  will  be  provided  with  access  to  research  instruments  with  suggestions  for  implementation  and  analysis.    Discussion  time  will  be  used  to  discuss  best  approaches,  to  develop  research  questions  that  effectively  assess  the  impact  of  community  engagement  on  student  experiences  and  to  brainstorm  methodologies  that  will  address  these  questions.    Presenters  will  include  researchers  from  both  studies.  

Bates, R. A., & Martin, J. P., & Wilson, D., & Plett, M., & Smith, T. F. (2013, June), Interactive Session: Measuring the Impact of Connection to Community Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19809

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