2022 First-Year Engineering Experience

Community-Engaged First Year Learning Community

Presented at Technical Session M5C

Community Engaged Learning is a pedagogy that integrates academic learning with service activities and partnerships with local or global communities. The approach has shown many benefits to learning and student motivation. Within engineering it has shown benefits that include broadening the view of engineering which has been linked to efforts to increase diversity within engineering. Building cohorts of first-year students has also been linked to increases in persistence through learning communities and interest groups. This paper will provide a description of a first-year engineering learning community that uses a community-based design experience as an alternative to the traditional first-year introductory engineering courses. Students are given the option to live together and take a cohort of 2-3 classes together. Outside of class activities are done to connect students and instructors outside of the traditional classrooms. The learning community has grown to over 300 students per year. The classes and processes are explained and data shared that illustrates the positive impact of the approach. Female students are drawn to this option at 160% the rate of the overall first-year program. Data shows that they choose this option to gain engineering experience that connects with issues that matter to others.

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