Engineering and Physics Faculty Research and Publications

Document Type


Publication Title

International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page



Students in global service-learning and similar programs frequently encounter substantial social, cultural, political, and ethical differences when working with project partners in different countries and regions. Neglecting such differences can lead to project failures and/or disempowered communities. In response to these challenges, educational resources have been developed to teach students to think about how the people, social structures, and other contextual factors associated with projects can affect, and be affected by, students’ designs. Yet, there remains a scarcity of valid and reliable instruments to evaluate the effectiveness of such interventions. The purpose of this study is create a theoretically and empirically grounded instrument, the Energy Conversion Playground (ECP) design task, that is able to provide a meaningful and robust assessment of an individual’s ability to identify salient technical and non-technical considerations when approaching an engineering design task situated in a developing country context. We present the scenario and an accompanying rubric that was first developed inductively from student responses to the scenario (specifically 449 discrete items from 93 ECP design tasks submitted by students who attended a Global Engineering Design Symposium). Further development of the rubric involved deductive grounding in relevant literature. To demonstrate the sensitivity of ECP design task to changes in students’ thinking, we also performed comparative analysis of responses from a subset of the students (n=37) who completed the same instrument both before and after participating in the GEDS.

Creative Commons Usage License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Copyright held by


Included in

Engineering Commons