Asee peer logo

A Preliminary Analysis of the Impact of Geotechnical Concept Tools (GCT) Integrated into a Civil Engineering Classroom

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.91.1 - 24.91.20



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Kimberly Warren University of North Carolina, Charlotte

visit author page

Dr. Kimberly Warren is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who specializes in the field of Geotechnical Engineering, a discipline of Civil Engineering. She holds her Civil Engineering degrees from Virginia Tech and North Carolina State University. Her disciplinary research involves the use of geosynthetic materials (polymeric materials) incorporated into Civil Engineering Structures including roadways and earth retaining structures. Due to her strong passion for teaching, Dr. Warren pursued educational research opportunities in recent years and was awarded an NSF TUES grant, which she is currently completing with hopes of continuing her work in this area. Dr. Warren has been awarded the UNC Charlotte College of Engineering teaching award for her dedication and excellence in teaching.

visit author page


Chuang Wang University of North Carolina, Charlotte

visit author page

Dr. Wang is an associate professor of educational research at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, Development, Implementation, and Assessment of Geotechnical Concept Tools, as a Co-Principal Investigator and served as an independent program evaluator for four other federally funded research grants: (1) Developing Standards-Based Mathematics Teachers; (2) Behavior and Reading Improvement Center; (3) Translating Inquiry-Based Learning into Environmental Biotechnology Courses at Four Institutions; and (4) Assessment Practices to Support Mathematics Learning and Understanding for Students. Dr. Wang also received six state/regional grants: (1) Expert Witness for Center for Civil Rights Leandro Intervention; (2) High School Challenge: Achievement Gap between At-Risk and Not-At-Risk Students; (3) Elementary School Students’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs and Self-Regulated Learning Strategies in Learning English as a Second Language; (4) Self-efficacy Beliefs and Self-Regulated Learning Strategies of Children Learning English as a Second Language; (5) Improving Basic Literacy Skills and Social Behavior of Urban At-Risk Kindergartners through Intensive Early Reading Intervention and Parental Involvement; and (6) Standardizing the Test of English for Graduate Students. The first two grants were based on the analysis of the large-scale longitudinal data from North Carolina Education Research Data Center (NCERDC) located in the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. He has published 6 books, 10 book chapters, and 60 journal articles. Of the 76 publications, 45 were in the areas of reading or mathematics and were related to factors such as student, teacher, principal, superintendent, and community characteristics. He also had more than 40 paper presentations at national and international academic conferences. Dr. Wang received the 2008 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Distinguished Paper Award.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Formal Evaluation of Geotechnical Concept Tools (GCT) Designed to Increase Comprehension in the Classroom Most Civil Engineering (CE) programs require an undergraduategeotechnical engineering course. While engineering students are capable of‘utilizing’ equations to solve geotechnical problems, they have a difficult timedeveloping a complete ‘comprehension’ of the equations, fundamental concepts,and engineering application. The ability to reach higher levels of comprehensionis contingent on the mastery at the foundation material. It is important thatfaculty use diverse teaching methods and encourage students to elevate their levelof thinking. As part of a course curriculum grant, a required undergraduategeotechnical engineering course was targeted to formally investigate and assessthe use of interactive classroom tools referred to as Geotechnical Concept Tools(GCT). The entire course curriculum was revamped and the GCT were developedto create student-centered learning activities and interactive classroom modelsand/or visuals to evaluate their effect on comprehension and retention offundamental geotechnical engineering concepts, and assess preferred learningstrategies. Students who are challenged by conventional lecture delivery stylesmay benefit from a more diverse teaching method, but the use and formalassessment of these methods for a Geotechnical Engineering course is notdocumented in the literature. This study was designed to span four academic semesters. The first twosemesters were taught using conventional lecture methods. Participating studentsduring these first two semesters represent the control group. The last twosemesters (currently underway) will be taught with the integration of GCT.Qualitative and quantitative data are collected as part of this project and will beused to compare student learning outcomes in the treatment and control groups.Specifically, the purpose of this project is to 1) develop effective, innovativedesk-top tools that will provide students with an interactive, visual learningexperience, 2) implement these tools while identifying the challenges, 3) conductan extensive evaluation of the impact of this effort, and 4) formalize a new modelfor use in engineering programs. The comprehensive evaluation plan evaluates the effectiveness of theimplementation process and will assess the impact of GCT on comprehension (perlecture) and retention (during the course of the semester) using both “pre-postsingle group outcome design” and “comparison (cross-sectional) group design”methods. The evaluation team includes an education assessment expert from theCollege of Education, an internal evaluator within the CE Department, and twoexternal evaluators with engineering education evaluation expertise. Qualitativedata from observation field notes, instructor teaching logs/reflections, and studentinterviews will be analyzed using constant comparison method from groundedtheory where statements will be grouped by common themes. The emergingthemes will be adapted during the data analysis procedures. Quantitativeinstruments include pre and post student surveys, short quizzes, content moduletests, and the final exam. Quantitative data from criteria-based assessments willbe analyzed using statistical procedures. Both formative and summativeevaluation will be conducted to assess the objectives of the project. This paper will build on a previous paper that outlined the details of theproject design and evaluation plan. The final results of the 4-semester evaluationwill be presented.

Warren, K., & Wang, C. (2014, June), A Preliminary Analysis of the Impact of Geotechnical Concept Tools (GCT) Integrated into a Civil Engineering Classroom Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--19983

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015