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A model for improving stakeholder-focused communication in undergraduate civil engineering

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Conference

2023 Fall Mid Atlantic Conference: Meeting our students where they are and getting them where they need to be

Location

Ewing, New Jersey

Publication Date

October 27, 2023

Start Date

October 27, 2023

End Date

January 10, 2024

Page Count

14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--45112

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/45112

Download Count

54

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Paper Authors

biography

Jennie Perey Saxe University of Delaware Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7282-5672

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Jennie Perey Saxe is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware. Dr. Saxe is primarily focused on undergraduate instruction in environmental engineering. Her research portfolio includes work in environmental justice, sustainability, and communications. She is also a co-advisor of the Engineers Without Borders - University of Delaware Chapter.

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Abstract

The motivation for this study is to examine the impact of a novel stakeholder-focused civil engineering communication course on students’ self-reported communication proficiency. Civil and environmental engineering projects are often publicly funded; public participation is often required as part of the project cycle and meaningful engagement of a variety of stakeholders is critical to project success. However, the inclusion of a stakeholder-focused communication class, taught by engineering faculty for engineering students, is the exception rather than the rule. The purpose of this work was to determine the effectiveness of this new course – the development of which was supported by a departmental external advisory committee of engineers in industry, government, and academia – to train engineers entering practice in critical communication skills. Self-reported communication proficiency was assessed through pre- and post-course survey instruments issued at the beginning and end of the semester. Students were asked to report their familiarity with a variety of communication tools and their proficiency in written and in-person/oral communication. Data was evaluated for significance using a two-sample t-test assuming unequal variances. Data collected over three years indicate that the course results in a significant improvement in written and in-person/oral communication skills, though in-person/oral communication skills do not improve to the same extent as written communications. This demonstrates that an intensive, stakeholder-focused civil engineering communication course can be effective in training students for entry into engineering practice and prepares them for interacting with a range of stakeholders in civil engineering projects.

Saxe, J. P. (2023, October), A model for improving stakeholder-focused communication in undergraduate civil engineering Paper presented at 2023 Fall Mid Atlantic Conference: Meeting our students where they are and getting them where they need to be, Ewing, New Jersey. 10.18260/1-2--45112

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