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Mechanisms For Implementing Service Learning: Analysis Of Efforts In A Senior Product Design Class In Mechanical Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Design Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.932.1 - 10.932.11



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Paper Authors

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Sumedha Ariely

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David Wallace

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Amy Banzaert

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

Mechanisms for Implementing Service Learning: Analysis of Efforts in a Senior Product Design Class in Mechanical Engineering

Sumi Ariely, Amy Banzaert, David Wallace

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract Interest in applying and studying service learning in engineering courses is increasing due to both the experiential learning and values-based approach it offers. Integration of service learning into a required senior-level mechanical engineering product design class was undertaken and the cognitive and social effects of the pedagogy were studied through use of a pre-post survey tool. In this paper, we focus on the results of three main questions for study: 1) whether students’ perceptions of their ability in various engineering skills changed over the course of the class, 2) whether students’ perceptions of career goals changed over time, and 3) whether students’ interest in community service changed over the course of the class. Results indicate that students perceived learning gains in key product design areas such as ability to design new products, creativity, and problem solving, and some differential effects were found for women. Students, particularly minorities, also increased their orientation toward a service approach, changing their professional aspirations away from consulting and medicine to more innovative product development work and graduate research while increasing their overall interest in community service and their beliefs about engineers’ social responsibility.

Introduction Service learning is a form of experiential education designed to enhance learning and provide practical outcomes through the integration of academically appropriate community service projects into coursework. In contrast to general experiential learning models, service learning adds the key benefit of directly connecting active learning with a social context. Service learning helps students to understand civic responsibilities and the application of technical skills to local and global contexts that they would not typically experience while at university or in the general job market once they graduate.

Academic and industry leaders have emphasized the need for engineering students to develop core competencies in creative problem solving, group skills, design skills, and global awareness, such that engineers become an integral part of the leadership in setting public policy, industry, and corporate agenda 1, 2 . Educating engineers who not only excel technically but who are also ethical, socially aware, and globally sophisticated is a major challenge for today’s engineering schools. Service learning theory and practice provides a model for influencing such positive social and cognitive change by providing students with a learning environment in which to think about the larger context of their education as well as their role as members of society. The conceptual and empirical support that learning theory provides for service learning 3, 4 and the Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Ariely, S., & Wallace, D., & Banzaert, A. (2005, June), Mechanisms For Implementing Service Learning: Analysis Of Efforts In A Senior Product Design Class In Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14481

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