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A Methodology To Define The Body Of Knowledge In Civil Engineering

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Raising the Bar and Body of Knowledge

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.68.1 - 8.68.10



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Paper Authors

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Wilfrid Nixon

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M. Asghar Bhatti

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

Session 2315

A Methodology to Define the Body of Knowledge in Civil Engineering

Wilfrid A. Nixon and M. Asghar Bhatti Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 52242

Abstract Policy 465 of ASCE proposes radical changes in the process and implementation of civil engineering education. A necessary step in that implementation is defining the Body of Knowledge (BOK) required in various topics within civil engineering, both at the time of graduation and at the time of licensure. This paper will explore, for a particular sub- discipline within civil engineering (structures), how the BOK should be developed and of what it might consist at both graduation and licensure levels.

Three groups have an obvious interest in defining the BOK: practitioners, faculty and students. A major issue in the process of defining the BOK is how the interests of these groups should be protected. There is a danger that small groups within the profession of civil engineering may end up defining the BOK without adequate representation of these groups. There is also a danger that the BOK may be defined in such broad terms as to be either meaningless (because the statements within the definition are “apple pie and motherhood”) or overly subject to interpretation without adequate representation.

This paper presents a simple process to develop feedback from the interest groups defined above. This survey-based method has been tested on the BOK for the sub-discipline of structures. Three small and unscientifically selected groups were used to test the device: junior and senior undergraduates at the University of Iowa; faculty in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Iowa; and practitioners from the Iowa Section of ASCE. Two levels of knowledge were identified: that for graduating students and that for newly licensed engineers. The BOK was presented in a series of statements in the form “Graduating students must have knowledge of …” or “Newly licensed engineers must have knowledge of …” as appropriate. Responses were measured on a scale of 1 through 5, where 5 corresponds to strongly agree and 1 corresponds to strongly disagree. The results of the survey are presented and their implications are discussed.

Introduction What should a civil engineer know, and when should she (or he) know it? This apparently innocent question has profound implications for the future of civil engineering as a

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Nixon, W., & Bhatti, M. A. (2003, June), A Methodology To Define The Body Of Knowledge In Civil Engineering Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11687

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