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A Pilot Study For A "Course Less" Curriculum

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Innovation in Curriculum Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.72.1 - 10.72.15



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Paper Authors

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Robert Knox

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Randall Kolar

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Teri Rhoads

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Kurt Gramoll

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

Paper 2005-2156

A Pilot Study for a “Course-less” Curriculum

R. L. Kolar, R. C. Knox, K. Gramoll, T. R. Rhoads

University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019


In 2002, we received an NSF planning grant (NSF EEC 0230681) that builds upon our Sooner City project, which was funded through the Action Agenda program (NSF EEC 9872505). Briefly, Sooner City is a comprehensive, integrated, infrastructure design project that is threaded throughout the OU civil engineering curriculum, beginning in the freshman year. For practical purposes, the original Sooner City project was implemented in the context of the traditional "course-dictated" curriculum. While this strategy promotes faculty buy-in and minimizes institutional cost, we believe that desired outcomes may be more fully realized if the curriculum were more flexible, viz, provide basic engineering science skills and tools to the students on an as-needed basis to complete the project. Thus, the objective of the planning grant is to pilot a project-driven, "course-less" curriculum. In this setting, “course-less” does not refer to “no courses.” Rather, there would be “less” of them because traditional courses that teach basic concepts would be replaced with self-paced IT modules. The pilot study consists of four phases: 1) develop electronic modules to deliver content from fluid mechanics on a just-in-time basis; 2) beta-test the modules with students who have not had fluid mechanics; 3) develop Sooner City design projects that integrate these modules in a just-in-time fashion; 4) assess the efficacy of the methods. Herein, we report on progress to date. Outcomes from the project will provide the needed insight to direct future steps toward a more robust “course-less” educational experience.

1. Overview of the Sooner City Project.

1.1 Background. The Sooner City project seeks to reform the traditional civil engineering curriculum by threading a comprehensive, integrated, infrastructure design project across the curriculum, beginning in the freshman year. Basically, freshmen are given a plat of undeveloped or partially developed land that, by the time they graduate, is turned into a blueprint for Sooner City's infrastructure [21]. Among other things, the project promotes five outcomes not fully addressed by traditional curricula, but which are emphasized by the NSF Engineering Education Coalitions and ABET 2000: team building, communication, leadership, design, and higher level learning skills.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education.”

Knox, R., & Kolar, R., & Rhoads, T., & Gramoll, K. (2005, June), A Pilot Study For A "Course Less" Curriculum Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14858

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