Engagement in Practice: Toward Building University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign's Multi-Disciplinary Service-Learning Ecosystem

Yuting W. Chen, Blake Everett Johnson, Marcia Pool, Saadeddine Shehab, Brian K. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Motivated by sympathy for the plight of K -12 educators during the early days of the pandemic, instructors of one course in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Grainger College of Engineering saw an opportunity to help. They reached out to a local middle school with an offer to develop educational media for their science classes, which would be produced by teams of engineering students. Though the production was not of flawless quality, the recipient was pleased with the content. The idea for a multi-disciplinary Service-Learning Ecosystem was seeded. To encourage service-learning incorporation in more engineering courses, a team comprised of faculty and specialists from engineering, education, and media is building an ecosystem that will connect university instructors (faculty and graduate teaching assistants) with local partners; provide educational and multi-media support, guided by experts in education and media; and serve the local community and beyond. To make connections with local community partners, the team collaborated with a campus unit that oversees community service and received many leads due to the unit's effective outreach strategies. Nevertheless, the team faced two challenges: 1) addressing the needs of each local community partner while still meeting the course learning objectives for the university instructors involved and 2) defining the needed support from education and media specialists. To overcome these challenges, the team is currently conducting a qualitative research study that aims to understand the experience of the current cohort of service-learning university GTAs (Graduate Teaching Assistants) who will generate learning modules for local schools. The findings of this study will set the stage for improving, scaling, and building the service-learning ecosystem by providing insights to understand the mutually beneficial experiences for university instructors and students, and local partners and their students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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