Service-learning is an educational practice that has been used successfully in many disciplines, and is defined as ‘a credit-bearing, educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility’ (Bringle, R. and Hatcher, J., A service-learning curriculum for faculty. Michigan J. Community Service-Learning, 1995, 2, 112–122). This research examines a first-year biological engineering design course that incorporated a service-learning project. Students participated in a survey and in focus groups to explore how well the service-learning project helped them to meet EC 2000 a–k objectives. Results showed that the service-learning project was a useful teaching method for accomplishing the learning objectives set forth by the instructor and by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology. Women and non-white participants in this study generally assessed their learning outcomes to be greater than white males, which could have important implications in the recruitment and retention of such students in engineering.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by a series of grants from the Louisiana Board of Regents LaCEPT (Louisiana Collaborative for Excellence in the Preparation of Teachers). Jan Shoemaker and the LSU Office of Service-Learning provided information, resources and support for this project.