June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Knowledge in technical courses is enhanced through high-level active learning, which includes activities that integrate learned theory. Student-centered strategies, active participation of all parties – students and faculty– and clearly defined outcomes are promising approaches in teaching technical material. Students need critical thinking skills and creativity to develop effective solutions to complex technical problems and an active learning environment is useful for students to learn practical skills. This includes problem-based learning and student designed laboratory experiments. The Civil Engineering Materials course at Manhattan College is a core course taken by all civil engineering students in the spring semester of the sophomore year or fall semester of the junior year. Traditionally this course covers a variety of civil engineering materials, their sources, manufacturing processes, and behavior under different loading conditions. The content of this course is flexible and includes a laboratory component. This is one of the core classes in which active learning techniques can be implemented successfully. A term project competition inspired by the “Concrete Frisbee” competition held by colleges and universities across the country and world was introduced to four sections of the Fall 2016 and three sections of the Fall 2015 Civil Engineering Materials course. In alignment with Constructivist Learning Theory, students work in groups, and engage in group discussion and hands-on activities. Each group is asked to design their green concrete using recycled materials and construct a concrete Frisbee. Students are graded based on many factors such as aesthetics, weight, distance traveled, creativity and their written report. The success of the project is evaluated using a post in-class survey instrument. The assessment is based on student feedback evaluating their knowledge of sustainable concrete materials. The project was first incorporated in the fall semester of 2015 and it was again used with slight modifications in the fall semester of 2016. Along with these slight modifications, a student survey was introduced in the Fall 2016 semester to assess the success of the project. The results of the survey indicate that the project was effective. Additionally the course instructors have decided to reuse the project in future semesters with several additional modifications.
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