Incorporating service learning in traditionally lecture-based environmental engineering courses through researching bacterial contamination at a local beach

Kathryn B. Mika, Tiffany Y. Lin, Marcia Ferreira, Jessica Lacson, Christine M. Lee, Chu Ching Lin, Kathy O'Byrne, William Sandoval, Vanessa Thulsiraj, Jennifer A. Jay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of an optional 1-2 unit service learning (SL) course added onto two undergraduate engineering classes. The SL add-on aimed to increase participant understanding of, and interest in, local environmental science issues relevant to the course material and consisted of classroom visits to a partnering middle school class, collaborative environmental field research to test student-generated hypotheses, and presentations of the results at the university. Letter writing about environmental issues was included as a political engagement opportunity for the middle school students some years ago. For undergraduates, the SL component resulted in increases in the undergraduates' perceptions of both their level of knowledge about politics and of their role in government. A similar survey was administered to middle school students, whose results were less consistent across both years. In the post-survey in 2008, middle school students reported increases in their perception of the importance of understanding science and their interest in local government. These results show that even the addition of an optional SL component can provide value to both the community and the undergraduate students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-162
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Journal of Engineering Education
Volume14
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Community-based research
  • Political engagement
  • Service learning
  • Water quality

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