Engineering and Physics Faculty Research and Publications


An Assessment Approach to Project-Based Service Learning

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



A Research-Informed Assessment Approach to Project-Based Service Learning Assessment is important to engineering educators and researchers to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of student learning in courses and experiences. Assessment can be particularly challenging in engineering project-based service-learning (PBSL) because the types of outcomes do not lend themselves to traditional modes of assessment. This paper presents a strategy of assessing an established PBSL program. The goals of the PBSL program are to develop design skills and to develop a broader set of skills required for graduates to thrive in a global environment. Like many service-learning programs, there is also the intent to impact students personally and professionally beyond the course goals for the benefit of the community. This paper will use the program as an example for a research-informed assessment plan. Assessments include formative and summative assessments that are integrated into the curriculum and provide feedback to the students during the course. The assessments are designed to be used across disciplines because the PBSL program is very multidisciplinary, including students from across as well as outside of engineering. A more recent addition to the assessment portfolio is an alumni survey to provide a reflective view of the impact of the experiences after graduation. Research methods were applied to the development of a survey. The paper will discuss several challenges to administering the survey, including recruitment and obtaining a large quantity of responses. The intent of the survey is simultaneously to provide feedback on the PBSL program and to provide insight on the long term impact on alumni, especially when compared to other learning opportunities available during their undergraduate years. The survey was designed to identify candidates for follow-on interviews to further explore the impact of the program. The quantitative and qualitative data obtained in the survey and interviews will further contribute to the scholarship of engagement and learning. The results of the survey are significant and will be highlighted in the paper. These include the finding that the PBSL program provides significant impact to the alumni’s subsequent professional experiences, and more impact when compared to other learning opportunities.


This paper was presented at the 2013 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition held June 23-26, 2013.

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American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)