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Student Perceptions of Design Projects that Involve Developing Assistive Devices for Elementary School Children with Disabilities

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Impact of Community Engagement on Students

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1119.1 - 24.1119.11



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Paper Authors


Matthew T. Siniawski Loyola Marymount University

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Dr. Matthew T. Siniawski is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. He teaches the senior capstone design project courses and has recently begun mentoring students on the design of assistive devices for children with disabilities. One of his research interests lies in understanding how these Learning Through Service projects impact participating engineering students and community partners. He is also interested in researching classroom-based pedagogies of engagement and developing a standards-based grading system for engineering project courses.

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Victoria Louise Graf


Shawna Leigh Draxton WISH Charter

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Shawna Draxton is the founding principal of WISH Charter, a kindergarten through sixth grade elementary school that demonstrates best practices in the areas of collaboration and co-teaching, inclusive education, parent partnerships, differentiated instruction, and positive behavior support. Prior to serving the WISH community, Shawna taught at CHIME charter elementary and worked in a variety of capacities for the LAUSD.

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Student Reflections on Undergraduate Engineering Capstone Design Projects That Involve Developing Assistive Devices to Promote Inclusion for Elementary School Children with DisabilitiesAbstractOne of the major goals of the engineering profession is to improve the human condition. It istherefore important for engineering educators to introduce the idea of public service so thatstudents can recognize the potential impact their profession can have on society. One uniqueapproach to engaging engineering students in service-based learning involves the design anddevelopment of assistive devices for persons with disabilities. Some previous papers specificallydiscuss incorporating design projects involving assistive devices into capstone design courses,but no literature exists that provides a clear understanding of how engineering undergraduatestudents participating in such projects perceive the opportunity as a means to learn engineeringskills. This project begins to fill this major gap in the literature.Teams of undergraduate mechanical engineering students at an ABET accredited small privateuniversity in the southwest were tasked to develop assistive devices during their yearlong 2012-2013 capstone design course sequence. For these projects, the student teams partnered with anationally recognized local free independent charter elementary school that is dedicated toproviding an inclusive educational environment for all children. In a full inclusion setting,students with special needs are educated alongside students without special needs as the first anddesired option while maintaining appropriate support and services. A growing body of researchindicates that inclusive education is an effective practice for most students. For example, it iswell documented that inclusive education can yield positive outcomes for all of those involved,including the focus students, typical peers, classroom teachers, and the school community atlarge.The engineering student teams were required to submit their designs to the 2013 RESNA StudentDesign Competition, an annual competition sponsored by Rehabilitation Engineering andAssistive Technology Society of North America. This paper will provide a discussion of thedesign projects and a qualitative assessment of how engineering undergraduate studentsparticipating in such projects perceive the opportunity as a means to learn engineering skills. Inparticular, this paper will utilize an open-coding approach to identify emergent categories inpost-intervention student responses to questions regarding student learning and development asprofessionals and as members of society in general.

Siniawski, M. T., & Graf, V. L., & Draxton, S. L. (2014, June), Student Perceptions of Design Projects that Involve Developing Assistive Devices for Elementary School Children with Disabilities Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23052

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