Published in International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering, Volume 9, Issue 1, Spring April 1, 2014, pages 1-23.
Twenty-four senior-level capstone engineering design projects were completed at a large, public, primarily undergraduate university involving 85 students (70 male and 15 female). All projects involved the design of equipment to facilitate physical activity for people with disabilities. The effects on: i) learning design, ii) attitude towards people with disabilities, iii) motivation to complete team design projects and iv) interdisciplinary collaboration were analyzed through 24 one-hour focus groups. We explored the student experience using a constructivist approach and grounded theory. Four major themes (with associated sub-themes) emerged from our data analysis: learning design (project management, iterative design process, and user-centered design), motivation to complete design (engineering, disabilities, user), perceptions of people with disabilities (previous experience, changed attitudes and beliefs), and multidisciplinary collaboration (etiquette presentation, communication between disciplines, defining roles and expectations). Students completing these projects were shown to appreciate user-centered design, exhibit greater motivation when able to meet and develop a relationship with their client in person, discuss altruistic factors regarding their capstone experience, and were able to develop strong multidisciplinary skills.
Published by IJSLE.