Engineering Service Learning

Definition of Service LearningA credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service learning activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of the course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. (Source: Service-Learning Engineering In Your Community; Lima & Oakes)

Service-Learning has been implemented social science courses in high education because of the apparent benefit of student’s understanding of the material given during a course. This type of teaching style allows students to interact with the community and solve problems that have been identified by organizations that work with the community. Students are able to use real world problems to utilize the skills being taught and develop a sense of civic responsibility to the community in which they work. Unfortunately, service learning has not taking prevalence in more technical fields, such as engineering, where the teaching focus is towards gaining a concrete background in the math and science necessary to be successful in research or field work. High education engineering courses tend to avoid service-learning to keep the material rigorous and traditional; however, this limits the student’s ability to see the worldwide scope of the material and skills being learned. Our aim is to provide a viable approach to a engineering service-learning course that will maintain the rigor of an traditional engineering course, while  increasing student understanding, interest, and  active involvement in the course and the material being presented.

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