June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1072.1 - 13.1072.10
Changes in Engineering Student Attitudes with Respect to Service Learning: A Response to a Curricular Intervention?
Abstract: In the fall of 2004, a study was completed the Colorado School of Mines that compared engineering faculty and student attitudes with respect to community service. The primary purpose of the investigation was to acquire baseline data prior to the implementation of the new undergraduate Humanitarian Engineering Program. The purpose of this program is to prepare engineering students for careers that will interface with and directly benefit the underserved global community. Given this, it was anticipated that one outcome of the revised curriculum would be improved attitudes on the part of participants with respect to community service. The current paper compares student attitude data collected in a sophomore required course in 2004, before students had participated in the revised Humanitarian Engineering curriculum, to that of data collected from seniors in 2007, after students completed, or at least became aware of the revised curriculum. The results of this investigation indicate a difference in the students’ attitudes between the two administration periods but a direct link could not be established between the differences in attitudes and the new program.
As a field, engineering has always served the needs and desires of people. According to the Merriam-Webster on-line English dictionary, one definition for engineering is “the application of science and mathematics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to people” (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/engineering). Yet, leaders in the engineering profession and engineering education have come to acknowledge that many Americans believe engineering is irrelevant to humanity’s present and future needs5. Researchers have further found that engineering students and professionals are often perceived by the public to be concerned with their own personal interests and material goals rather than with the needs of society 1- 4. In other words, the public’s perception of engineering and the goals of engineering as a field are inconsistent. The failure of society to recognize the important contributions of engineers and the field of engineering to society has been cited as a potential factor that has contributed to the steady decline in engineering enrollment over the last decade, as well as the persistent under-representation of women and minorities in the field6.
In order to address these concerns, the Engineering Division and the Liberal Arts and International Studies Division at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), with funding from the Flora and William Hewlett Foundation, have undertaken a curriculum development initiative that emphasizes the human component of engineering. This program embraces the concept that engineers and the field of engineering serve a critical role in society. This interdisciplinary collaboration at CSM has created a sequence of courses designed to help engineering students understand the ethical, cultural, historical and technical dimensions of engineering work applied to community development in the U.S. and abroad7. One of the primary goals of this effort is to create a culture of acceptance and value of community and international service activities among CSM’s faculty and students.
Musimbi, O., & Moskal, B., & Munoz, D. (2008, June), Service Learning In Engineering Education: Impact On Faculty And Student Attitudes. Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3208
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