Experiments in service learning
Author(s)Banzaert, Amy, 1976-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
David R. Wallace.
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Service learning, an educational method that involves the application of academic work to projects that benefit under-served communities, was explored in two complementary forms. First, the development of an alternative form of charcoal made from sugarcane agricultural waste is discussed, including product and process characterization and improvement. The motivation for the project is to establish an alternative cooking fuel that is less detrimental than existing options based on three criteria: health risks, environmental impact, and affordability. A method for improving the speed and safety of a critical process step is presented, and initial test findings demonstrate that the product generally matches the cooking parameters of the benchmark, the wood charcoal that this project seeks to replace. Second, the introduction of service learning pedagogy into three core mechanical engineering classes at MIT - 2.002 Mechanics and Materials II, 2.006 Thermo-Fluids Engineering II, and 2.009 Product Engineering Processes - is explored. Curricular materials, service projects, and assessment methods were developed and implemented. Based on initial research, the pedagogy is effective when integrated into the class well, meaning a project was chosen that was academically rigorous and matched both the curricular goals of the class and the needs of the community partner. In addition, positive social, career-oriented, and cognitive outcomes for students are evident, particularly for women and minority students. Use of service learning in 2.009 is also explored over four years, and positive results from interviews studying the interest in service learning by MIT mechanical engineering faculty are presented.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, 2006.Includes bibliographical references (p. 82-86).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology