June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Community Engagement Division
23.1080.1 - 23.1080.17
Spectra of Learning Through Service ProgramsResearch has shown that Learning Through Service (LTS) activities can successfully meet avariety of learning outcomes for engineering students and provide benefits to communitypartners. The number of service-learning and co-curricular service activities in engineeringappear to be growing, but the range and diversity of these programs has been somewhat poorlydocumented. While some more established programs have published extensively on theirprogram characteristics and assessment outcomes (i.e. SLICE at the University of MassachusettsLowell), many newer and emerging programs may not yet have published any information. Infact, some of these LTS activities are not routinely included in courses but are integrated bymotivated faculty -- sometimes without widespread recognition within their own college oruniversity. This paper will present a summary of LTS activities based on a literature search andrecent activities associated with the NSF-grant on Engineering Faculty Engagement in LearningThrough Service (EFELTS); by doing so emerging patterns, opportunities, challenges, andresources will be offered.Two NSF-sponsored workshops on LTS in engineering were held in 2012 and included 36participants representing approximately 30 different courses and programs from around the U.S.These courses and programs crossed a number of engineering disciplines, but with a somewhathigher representation in civil and environmental engineering. The LTS programs were in variousstages from planning to well-established programs. The faculty and staff participants self-rated15 different characteristics of their LTS course or program on spectra that were roughlyseparated into four segments (e.g. none, low, medium, high). These characteristics should beconsidered during program design, and understanding the range of current programs may helpothers to learn lessons from these programs. This rating was done by placing post-it notes withtheir program name onto a large, wall-mounted, axis. Therefore, initial analysis counted thenumber of post-its in each quartile of the scale (with some programs placed on the boundarybetween two quadrants and therefore counted half for each).Four of the characteristics are academic in nature, and include deliverables, assessment, learningoutcomes, and civic outcomes. Most programs indicated that they included substantial and manydeliverables, with only one program in the bottom quarter of the spectrum. Assessment acrossthe programs was more diverse, ranging from little to rigorous, and aligned for 19%, 24%, 26%,and 31% of the programs. Student learning outcomes tended to ‘clear and rigorous’, with 12%,18%, 34%, and 36% of the programs in the quartiles from none to clear and rigorous. Bycomparison, civic outcomes were nearly evenly distributed in all four quartiles of the scale (26%,25%, 22%, 26%), which ranged from only experiential to experiential with deep reflection.Three elements related to program design were rated. Eight (21%) programs were consideredextracurricular (many of these were EWB programs), 51% were elective courses, and 28% wererequired courses. Student numbers ranged from individual to large teams, with most programsmid-sized; 1%, 29%, 44%, and 25% LTS programs in each quartile. Most programs were alsomulti-disciplinary, with 50% of the programs in the top quartile and only 9% of the LTSprograms listed as single disciplines; an additional 41% of programs were placed in the middlehalf of the scale.Six program management characteristics were considered. The program size in terms of numberof students, were large (mode in largest quartile). Faculty involvement was most commonlysingle (39% LTS programs) but also ranged to large (18% in the top quartile). The vast majorityof the LTS programs reported no staff support (59% LTS programs in the bottom quartile); onlya single program reported staff involvement in the highest quartile. For geographic context therewas nearly an even split between local and international projects, and two programs were splitindicating that they included some projects in both local and international locations. Sixteenprograms (42%) were placed at the high end of the time scale indicating a duration of years (i.e.EPICS), and no programs were only of a duration of days. The 58% of the programs in themiddle of the duration scale were in the weeks to semester range. No programs reportedminimal or indirect interactions with their community partner; 35% of programs were in the topquartile reporting immersive interactions. Finally, the technical content of the LTS programswere predominantly in the third highest quartile, while social/cultural content averaged a littlelower.The workshop participants also created “blueprints” to examine their LTS course or program.These included the value propositions for the various stakeholders, relationships with the variousstakeholders, and key activities (among other elements). Common themes among theseblueprints will be presented in the conference paper.
Bielefeldt, A. R., & Paterson, K., & Swan, C., & Pierrakos, O., & Kazmer, D. O., & Soisson, A. (2013, June), Spectra of Learning Through Service Programs Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/22465
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