The purpose of this study is to understand the role that extracurricular project-based experiential learning plays in educating undergraduate students studying engineering. Informed by the literature in the fields of student engagement and experiential learning, the study examines perceptions and experiences of nascent engineers to understand how these specific extracurricular activities contribute to their collegiate experience. Extracurricular projects refer to non-credit and non-paid design-and-build activities where the majority of the activity takes place in a campus context and is student driven. Students who were taking part in extracurricular engineering projects while completing their four-year engineering degree at the University of Minnesota were included in this qualitative case study. Ten interviews were conducted to collect the majority of the data, which was supplemented with three observations and the collection and inspection of artifacts. The study results are organized into findings on student perceptions and the experiential learning process. Key findings include extracurricular projects as an especially impactful engagement activity for engineering students. Such projects also are effective tools for increasing self-efficacy and motivation and serve as a particularly valuable career preparation experience. Additionally, the organic design-build process students engage in outside the structure of a classroom parallels with Kolb’s model of experiential learning, suggesting a particularly suitable method for educating “new-century” engineers.
University of Minnesota D.Ed. dissertation. June 2016. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: David Weerts. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 154 pages.
Educating the New-Century Engineer: Understanding the Role of Extracurricular Project-Based Experiential Learning in Engineering Education.
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