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International Capstone Design Projects: Evaluating Student Learning And Motivation Associated With International Humanitarian Projects

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Engineering Design: Implementation and Evaluation

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.785.1 - 14.785.17



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Paper Authors


John Layer University of Evansville

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John K. Layer, Ph.D., P.E is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana.

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Chris Gwaltney University of Evansville

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Chris Gwaltney, P.E. is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana.

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

International Capstone Design Projects: Evaluating Student Learning and Motivation Associated with International Humanitarian Projects

Keywords: Structural Equation Modeling, Questionnaire, Invariance Testing


The University of Evansville, Mechanical and Civil Engineering Department facilitates the active learning of its students by requiring senior mechanical and civil engineering students to be involved with a real-world capstone design project during their senior year. These engineering projects provide the application of classroom instruction, encourage team work and communication skills, and provide an engineered solution that addresses an industrial or societal need. The typical process is to couple the industrial or societal need to the interest of the senior engineering student(s) in order that students have a vested interest in the project and obtain a sense of difference-making in completing the project. This paper evaluates student learning and motivation and provides a status report on the ongoing research at the University of Evansville concerning the enhancement of student learning and motivation by virtue of international and humanitarian attributes associated with international capstone design projects.

Eleven University of Evansville students traveled to the Dominican Republic for a six-day data collection activity that resulted in three capstone design projects for these students plus four additional students. A structural equation modeling analysis is presented that develops independent latent variables for international and humanitarian attributes that affect the proposed dependent latent variables of student motivational and learning outcomes.

This research is on-going and more data is required to develop a statistically significant structural model, although the development of the structural model provides a quantitative process to support other cited development models concerning student learning environments while providing direction with the on-going research. Invariance testing provides a process to evaluate the time-dependent effect of the design process as well as time elapsed from the on-site data collection activities. Invariance testing provides a means to answer the question does the structural model change as time progresses? Learning outcomes are shown to be enhanced with the travel related activities. This learning outcome enhancement was evaluated by analyzing the differences between students that traveled to the Dominican Republic versus those students who are associated with the projects but did not travel.

These Dominican Republic projects are distinctive in their coupling of the active learning component of the engineering senior capstone design project concept and the application of an international societal need. This series of Dominican Republic projects furthers the intention of 1 the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environ . The overall benefit of this international capstone design project is to provide the students an opportunity to investigate, assess, coordinate, design, communicate, and possibly witness the

Layer, J., & Gwaltney, C. (2009, June), International Capstone Design Projects: Evaluating Student Learning And Motivation Associated With International Humanitarian Projects Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5067

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