Engagement in Practice: Maximizing the Impact of Service-learning Activities Through Collaboration with K-12 Educators

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A team at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has been working with local schools and community partners to deliver service-learning STEM activities for K-12 students since 2020. These activities were developed by graduate students in engineering with guidance from engineering faculty members, an outreach specialist, and an education specialist. It has been a challenge to interact with K-12 educators as part of the development process, largely due to educators' reluctance of taking on more work on top of their already heavy workload during the regular school year. To address this issue, the team offered a paid summer workshop to engage them to provide feedback on the current process of developing and delivering service-learning activities. More than twenty-five educators applied after recruitment emails were sent to local school district contacts. In July 2022, a one-day workshop was held at UIUC with a group of fifteen K-12 educators from twelve different local schools, ranging from pre-K to high school. After the initial introduction, workshop participants were divided into five groups based on their teaching role and grade level. A human-centered design approach was then used to guide a series of group activities, which focused mainly on connecting all stakeholders to create better support between service-learning project developers (university students) and receivers (K-12 students). Lessons learned from the summer workshop include: (1) having a long-term (3-5 years) commitment for partnership between local schools and UIUC is highly desired and (2) having university students conduct observations at K-12 classrooms before starting the service-learning project would build trust and mutual understanding between the two sides. For the next steps, the team started classroom observations with three workshop participants during the current academic year and plans to engage more units within the university to ensure a lasting service-learning partnership with local schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 25 2023
Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2023Jun 28 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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