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Understanding Student And Faculty Attitudes With Respect To Service Learning: Lessons From The Humanitarian Engineering Program

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Program Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1372.1 - 10.1372.10



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Paper Authors

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Juan Lucena

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Elizabeth Bauer

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David Munoz

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Joan Gosink

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Barbara Moskal

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

Understanding Student and Faculty Attitudes With Respect to Service Learning: Lessons from the Humanitarian Engineering Program

E. Heidi Bauer, Barbara Moskal, Joan Gosink, Juan Lucena, David Muñoz Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado

Abstract Now entering its second year, the Humanitarian Engineering Program, which is sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation, at the Colorado School of Mines is creating curriculum that will support engineering students in developing an understanding of their responsibility for solving humanitarian problems that exist throughout the world. As part of this effort, baseline data has been collected on both the faculty and student attitudes towards service activities using the “Community Service Attitudes Scale” which was developed and validated by Shiarella, McCarthy, and Tucker1. During the fall of 2004, 78 students and 34 faculty responded to this assessment instrument. Student data were collected in the first semester of the Multidisciplinary Engineering Laboratory course sequence, a required course taken at the start of students’ sophomore year before they have the opportunity to participate in the newly revised service learning courses. Faculty completed the attitudes survey during the first faculty meeting of the academic year. This paper describes and compares student and faculty attitudes with respect to service activities prior to the proposed intervention. Attention is given to attitudinal differences between male and female students and among students in different age groups.

I. Introduction

Since the Marshall Plan of 1947 and President Truman’s famous ‘Point Four’ of his second inaugural address, United States foreign policy has stressed the importance of applying technical knowledge to aid ‘under-developed’ countries2. This has resulted in more than five decades of U.S. funding for humanitarian projects; however, because most U.S. engineers choose to work in the corporate sector, few have made substantial contributions to the solution of the humanitarian problems that face other nations. The few engineers who do work in U.S. aid and development organizations must commit to the objectives of U.S. foreign policy, which emphasizes macro economic growth instead of the fulfillment of basic human needs.

At the same time, prominent engineers and educators have been concerned by engineering graduates’ reluctance to enter political life, community service, and international work in the non-profit sector3. Furthermore, the public’s attitude toward engineering is not encouraging4. Leaders in engineering education and the profession have argued that many believe that engineering is irrelevant to humanity’s present and future needs, and this belief has contributed to the steady decline of engineering enrollment over the last decade, as well as the persistent under-representation of women and minorities in engineering. Engineering students are often

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Lucena, J., & Bauer, E., & Munoz, D., & Gosink, J., & Moskal, B. (2005, June), Understanding Student And Faculty Attitudes With Respect To Service Learning: Lessons From The Humanitarian Engineering Program Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15133

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