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A Methodology For Curriculum Modification Applied To Civil Engineering Mechanics

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Teaching Mechanics of Materials and General Mechanics Education

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Page Count


Page Numbers

14.54.1 - 14.54.12



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Paper Authors

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Bridget Wadzuk Villanova University

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David Dinehart Villanova University

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Edward Glynn Villanova University

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Shawn Gross Villanova University

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Frank Hampton Villanova University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Methodology for Curriculum Modification Applied to Civil Engineering Mechanics


Engineering curricula have traditionally had difficulty keeping pace with the rapid changes that take place in industry. Over the last twenty years, engineering curricula have changed little, especially with regards to core fundamental courses. While many concepts that comprise traditional courses must remain the same, the supplemental topics can evolve and the presentation of the material must be updated to address the ever-changing environment the undergraduate student encounters. The Villanova University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as part of their continuous improvement program, has undertaken the task to rethink its mechanics curriculum. Instead of looking at individual courses as a whole, a methodology that evaluates the individual topics within a curriculum was used and is described herein.

Essentially a Body of Knowledge (BOK) is developed that is targeted towards rethinking a curriculum at the course, discipline, and department levels. The methodology’s premise is built around a prioritized list of topics (each linked to an associated student learning outcome) that are utilized in upper level courses or in the practice of civil engineering. The steps involved in developing a BOK are: 1. Development of an all inclusive topic list containing topics traditionally taught as well as those that have been considered supplemental, 2. Development of a mechanism for all faculty to provide input on each topic, 3. Synthesis and evaluation of the data collected, 4. Creation of the prioritized topic list to be included in the curriculum, 5. Parsing of the BOK into logistical modules, and 6. Development of course format, sequence, and content to best fit the BOK. An example of the BOK methodology applied to a mechanics sequence within a civil engineering curriculum is presented. This methodology aided in converting six separate courses and labs into a cohesive three course mechanics sequence.


Today’s engineering colleges are faced with an increasing quantity of information that is available and demanded by students and industry as necessary for completion of an undergraduate degree. At the same time engineering programs are tasked to increase the depth and breadth of what is presented in a curriculum, there is pressure to reduce the number of credit hours with which this task is completed. Additionally, the demographic now desires information to be interactive and use multimedia. In response, trends show engineering programs overhauling their curriculums to be more innovative, integrated and inclusive of “real world” examples1-5. Universities are taking varied approaches in combining courses and presenting material in new formats; the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Villanova University (CEEVU) is no different.

In 2007, the CEEVU began to look at the mechanics courses as the start of the curriculum restructuring. Mechanics is at the root of a civil engineering curriculum. Within mechanics courses, fundamental concepts are introduced and students learn to solve problems. The tools

Wadzuk, B., & Dinehart, D., & Glynn, E., & Gross, S., & Hampton, F. (2009, June), A Methodology For Curriculum Modification Applied To Civil Engineering Mechanics Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5776

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