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Study Abroad as a Means to Achieving ABET Criterion 3 Outcomes: A Case Study in Course Design and Assessment

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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

Engineering & Our Global Society

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1136.1 - 24.1136.9



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Paper Authors


Kathryn A. Neeley University of Virginia

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Kathryn Neeley is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society in the Department of Engineering and Society. She is a past chair of the Liberal Education Division of ASEE.

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Study Abroad as a Means to Achieving ABET Criterion 3 Outcomes: A Case Study in Course Design and Assessment Study abroad is widely perceived as a transformational but elusive experience forengineering students: transformational because of its potential to combine experiential andintellectual understanding of engineering in global and social context, elusive because the highlystructured character of engineering curricula means that students can rarely study abroad withoutfalling behind in completion of their degree requirements. This paper will describe the designand assessment of a study abroad course aimed both at (a) meeting the needs of engineeringstudents and (b) providing non-engineering students with an introduction to engineering. “Jefferson in France 1787: Connoisseurship, Commerce, and Engineering” replicatedportions of Thomas Jefferson’s 1787 journey through the south of France. It began just after finalexams and concluded in mid-June, so that students could participate without foregoing theopportunity for a summer internship or other employment. Using the Institute of Political Studies(Sciences Po) in Lyon as a home base, the course focused on the places, practices, and structuresthat made a lasting impression on Jefferson with the aim of expanding students’ capacities forobservation, appreciation, and synthesis. The enrollment was evenly divided betweenengineering and non-engineering students. The premise of the course is that Jefferson’s journey should be understood as a wide-ranging investigation of culture, agriculture, and engineering. Specifically, the course engagesstudents in investigating and describing the distinctive features of French engineering,commerce, and aesthetics as they are exemplified in two of France’s most notable sociotechnicalachievements: viticulture and the Canal du Midi, a 17th century feat of hydraulic and socialengineering designed to connect the Mediterranean with the Atlantic. In addition to providingstudents with a disciplined, analytical approach to the interactions among science, technology,and society, the course is designed to deepen students’ understanding of technology in social andglobal context. Assessment of student learning was targeted at five outcomes: 1. Using details from the life of Jefferson to explain the strengths and limitations of historical narratives 2. Applying STS concepts and frameworks to historical developments and contemporary human activities 3. Using sociotechnical systems thinking to provide insight into similarities and differences of cultures 4. Engaging in interdisciplinary, collaborative inquiry 5. Functioning effectively in cross-cultural and international contexts and engaging in the lifelong learning that travel can facilitateThe paper will describe the content and deliverables of the course as well as the assessmentprocess and results.

Neeley, K. A. (2014, June), Study Abroad as a Means to Achieving ABET Criterion 3 Outcomes: A Case Study in Course Design and Assessment Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23069

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