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Student Voices: Service Learning In Core Engineering Courses

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1128.1 - 15.1128.15



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Paper Authors


Cheryl West UMass Lowell

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Research Associate, College of Engineering

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John Duffy University of Massachusetts Lowell

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Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department

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Manuel Heredia University of Massachusetts, Lowell

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Doctoral Student, Renewable Energy Engineering Program

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Linda Barrington University of Massachusetts Lowell

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Service-Learning Coordinator, College of Engineering

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Student Voices: Service-Learning in Core Engineering Courses Abstract

Undergraduate engineering students were asked about their views of the principal benefits attributable to service-learning (S-L) dispersed through core required courses through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. As S-L continues to become a significant part of the community- engagement movement in higher education, and as more university professors are encouraged to incorporate S-L activities in their course requirements, it is essential that educators build an understanding of what students gain with S-L and that they give students a voice in their own educational process and in the community. The service-learning (S-L) program SLICE (Service- Learning Integrated throughout a College of Engineering), based within the Francis College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, began as a curricular reform initiative designed to sequentially infuse S-L throughout engineering curriculum as a broad approach to promote development of better engineers, more engaged citizens, along with engineering the common good in communities. Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, and Plastics Engineering departments within the college integrated S-L activities into 192 course offerings (5 intro, 65 ME, 32 EE, 47 CE, 31 PlE, 12 ChE) across the last five years that involved an average of 753 undergraduate students each semester carrying out S-L projects. Half of the faculty has been involved.

In order to discover student views about S-L activities in engineering courses, and to better understand why students seem more motivated to learn with S-L, administration of 399 pre-S-L surveys and 458 post-S-L surveys were conducted with freshmen students; 526 post S-L student surveys at the end of the 2009 academic year; and 100 interviews, including some focus groups with undergraduate students and 5 alumni in 2009. Based on overall quantitative and qualitative data, students reported that S-L provided an important element of their education that encourages deepened and meaningful learning benefits. The outcomes are based on the total number of participants that responded to surveys across five years, as well as interviews, and focus groups. In short, engineering student voices are calling for more S-L projects integrated into core courses, for more direct community interactions, for meaning to what they are studying, and for empowerment to provide useful service to the community at all levels in their studies.

Keywords: Service-Learning, Diffuse Pedagogies, Qualitative Research

West, C., & Duffy, J., & Heredia, M., & Barrington, L. (2010, June), Student Voices: Service Learning In Core Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16923

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