June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.1079.1 - 15.1079.19
Assessing Self-Efficacy, Identity, Morality, and Motivation in a First-Year Materials Engineering Service Learning Course Abstract
The Materials Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University offers a year- long, three quarter engineering service learning experience to 35 – 50 first-year students each year. The goals for the course sequence are 1) to provide students with the skills, relationships, and motivation to succeed within the department, and 2) to increase student satisfaction and retention. Over the three quarters, we provide students with several activities and design projects, culminating in a final service learning project with a local not-for-profit organization.
The intent of this paper is to present an initial assessment of the effectiveness of a service- learning experience on several outcomes including retention, student satisfaction, self-efficacy, motivation, identity, and moral reasoning. We utilized a number of psychological instruments to measure constructs which we believe underlie the course goals described above. Initial results indicate that the most significant gains experienced by the students were in their moral reasoning, school and peer attachment, and design and self-directed learning self-efficacy. We also observed that retention of students at the end of the year was strongly predicted by satisfaction with the experience and learning self-efficacy. Satisfaction with the course was in turn strongly predicted by students’ gains in intrinsic motivation, positive interactions with their service learning community partners, and the quality of their classroom interactions with peers and faculty.
In the report The Engineer of 2020 from the National Academy of Engineering,1 leaders within the engineering education community propose a new vision for undergraduate engineering education that is focused on providing students with attributes such as creativity, agility, ethical reasoning, leadership, and autonomous thinking in addition to the traditional analytical and design skills already present in engineering curricula. To achieve this vision, it seems probable that new approaches to teaching will be necessary. Service learning has been identified as one such approach.2
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, service learning is “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities”.3 Service learning has been shown to benefit students with knowledge acquisition,4 cognitive development5, commitment to social justice,6 socio-moral development7 and self-efficacy.6 Given these generally positive results, service learning would seem to be an attractive approach to providing students with the attributes described above.
Engineering education seems well suited to service learning given both the project-oriented nature of the discipline and the place of service to society as a fundamental aspect of engineering professionalism. Though there have been successful applications of service learning within engineering, most notably the EPICS program at Purdue,8 relatively little attention has been paid
Harding, T., & Slivovsky, L., & Truch, N. (2010, June), Special Session: Assessing Morality, Identity, And Motivation In A First Year Materials Engineering Service Learning Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16185
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