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This research full paper presents research around the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program that serves two key purposes to: 1) provide a structured approach for engineering students to engage in real-world, service-based projects and 2) provide technical support and expertise that may be critical to local and global community organizations. Hence, EPICS strives to offer a platform that fosters the collaboration of engineering students and communities. EPICS helps develop undergraduate students’ professional skills extending beyond the theoretical knowledge acquired in classrooms. EPICS has been a fixture in engineering education for over 15 years, with a strong focus on curricular and pedagogical interventions to help students gain professional skills. The purpose of this paper is to explore the perspectives of over 650 students who participated in EPICS at a U.S. university during the academic years of 2019/2020 and 2020/2021. We used natural language processing (NLP) to thematically analyze students’ responses to an open-ended survey administered at the end of their semester participating in the EPICS program. Students’ responses reflect their perspectives on the design process, teamwork, real-world experiences, and the challenges they face during the design process related to other people and the program. In our findings, students’ least favorite parts of EPICS were lectures and design reviews, while their favorite parts of EPICS were teamwork and engaging with community partners. Understanding the themes emerging from the data can help us better implement community-based educational initiatives and find ways to better engage students in community service-learning projects. Our research provides implications for practice and research.more » « less
This full research paper documents assessment definitions from engineering faculty members, mainly from Research 1 universities. Assessments are essential components of the engineering learning environment, and how engineering faculty make decisions about assessments in their classroom is a relatively understudied topic in engineering education research. Exploring how engineering faculty think and implement assessments through the mental model framework can help address this research gap. The research documented in this paper focuses on analyzing data from an informational questionnaire that is part of a larger study to understand how the participants define assessments through methods inspired by mixed method strategies. These strategies include descriptive statistics on demographic findings and Natural Language Processing (NLP) and coding on the open-ended response question asking the participants to define assessments, which yielded cluster themes that characterize the definitions. Findings show that while many participants defined assessments in relation to measuring student learning, other substantial aspects include benchmarking, assessing student ability and competence, and formal evaluation for quality. These findings serve as foundational knowledge toward deeper exploration and understanding of assessment mental models of engineering faculty that can begin to address the aforementioned research gap on faculty assessment decisions in classrooms.more » « less