June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
NSF Grantees Poster Session
24.91.1 - 24.91.20
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.
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