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Student Experiences in Service-Learning: Engineering vs. Sciences

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1098.1 - 23.1098.17



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Paper Authors


Ella Willard-Schmoe University of Massachusetts Lowell

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Ella Willard-Schmoe is a graduate research assistant with Solar Energy Engineering.

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John J. Duffy University of Massachusetts Lowell

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Dr. John Duffy is professor emeritus of Renewable Energy Engineering.

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Emmanuelle Reynaud University of Massachusetts, Lowell


Linda Barrington University of Massachusetts, Lowell

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Linda Barrington is the Francis College of Engineering Service-Learning coordinator.

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Student Experiences in Service-Learning: Engineering vs. Sciences ASEE Community Engagement in Engineering Education Division AbstractThe cognitive and affective benefits of service-learning (S-L) for students have been welldocumented, and S-L has become more common in many disciplines, including engineering, thehealth sciences, and education. Opportunities in the core sciences, however, seem sparse. Thispaper compares the attitudes of science majors and engineering majors toward S-L throughquantitative analysis of survey responses. The goal is to separate student experience andlearning from other factors that might influence participation in S-L, such as institutionalsupport, faculty attitudes, and the intrinsic level of applicability of course material tocommunity issues.In the 2011-2012 academic year, 162 students in 9 courses in a College of Sciences participatedin S-L projects and were surveyed about their experience. These responses are compared tothose of 811 students in 33 courses from the College of Engineering, who completed the samesurvey. Compared to science majors, engineering students reported a significantly (5% level)stronger positive effect of S-L on their persistence in their major, their interest in the subjectmatter of the course, their ability to plan and carry out a project for the community, and theirability to address complex, open-ended problems.Some hypotheses are formed about the reasons for the difference: valuing applied work overtheoretical work is part of the engineering identity, and makes S-L a rewarding experience forengineers in particular; institutional acknowledgement of the value of S-L in the College ofEngineering has a positive effect on faculty’s presentation, and thus students’ reception, of theprojects; the average quality of the projects in the College of Engineering is higher, due toeither greater institutional support, intrinsic applicability of engineering course material, or theadvantage of having more practice in eight years of institutionalized S-L versus just three yearsof effort to institutionalize S-L in the sciences.

Willard-Schmoe, E., & Duffy, J. J., & Reynaud, E., & Barrington, L. (2013, June), Student Experiences in Service-Learning: Engineering vs. Sciences Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22483

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