Student Perceived Value of Intensive Experiential Learning

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Don R May


Experiential learning has become a common part of many engineering students undergraduate experience and is frequently accomplished using the service learning model. Intensive service learning for engineers is typically characterized by the type of “high risk” projects associated with developing world, humanitarian based service programs. In this research an expectancy-value theory model is used to evaluate student perceived value of service learning experiences. The model is applied to a case study where both engineering and non-engineering student participated in more than 25 projects over a 12 year period. Seventy-six percent of the respondents indicated that they most highly valued either the importance of the humanitarian mission or the impact of the experience on their perspective on life. Cost (monetary, time and effort) was ranked the least important factor. In all eight categories students rated the value (quality) of the experience higher than their expectation. Evidence suggests that, for engineering students, the value of the experience relative to their career should receive more emphasis and that professional role confidence may be an issue for female students. The results aid in assessing program efficacy and identifying areas where improvements can be achieved. 

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