Mechanisms for implementing service learning: Analysis of efforts in a senior product design class in mechanical engineering
Interest in applying and studying service learning in engineering courses is increasing due to both the experiential learning and values-based approach it offers. Integration of service learning into a required senior-level mechanical engineering product design class was undertaken and the cognitive and social effects of the pedagogy were studied through use of a pre-post survey tool. In this paper, we focus on the results of three main questions for study: 1) whether students' perceptions of their ability in various engineering skills changed over the course of the class, 2) whether students' perceptions of career goals changed over time, and 3) whether students' interest in community service changed over the course of the class. Results indicate that students perceived learning gains in key product design areas such as ability to design new products, creativity, and problem solving, and some differential effects were found for women. Students, particularly minorities, also increased their orientation toward a service approach, changing their professional aspirations away from consulting and medicine to more innovative product development work and graduate research while increasing their overall interest in community service and their beliefs about engineers' social responsibility.
Ariely, S; Banzaert, A; Wallace, D
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