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Applying Decoding the Disciplines in a Construction Engineering Mechanics Course: A description of the Decoding Interview

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Novel Methods of Construction Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.202.1 - 23.202.16



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Paper Authors


John Tingerthal Northern Arizona University

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John joined the Construction Management faculty at Northern Arizona University as an assistant professor in 2007. His engineering career spans a wide variety of design and forensic engineering experiences. He spent the first eight years of his career performing structural consulting engineering in Chicago. This work culminated with design work on the Minneapolis Public Library and the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison Wisconsin. He was also involved with forensic investigations in Iowa and Wisconsin and participated in structural coordination efforts at Ground Zero in September of 2001. He holds professional engineering licenses in the States of Arizona and Illinois.

He has recently earned the degree of Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Higher Education. His academic interests lie in the field of student-centered learning and teaching, currently concentrating on applying the Decoding the Disciplines process. John is a member of ASCE, AISC and The Associated Schools of Construction and advises the construction management student organization (CMO). He coordinates NAU’s teams for the Associated Schools of Construction Regional competition in Reno, NV, and coaches the BIM team.

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Abstract Decoding Engineering Mechanics in Construction Education It is sometimes difficult for educators to understand why students get stuck in theirlearning process. As experts, we take for granted basic moves and shortcuts that we take in ourdisciplines, however, these shortcuts can be major jumps for novice learners, resulting inbottlenecks to their learning progression. Careful analysis of these expert moves can lead toimprovement of student learning. Decoding the Disciplines is a robust process that developedout of the History Learning Project at Indiana University which uses peer interviews to get theeducator to identify those expert moves that students cannot make, resulting in a 'decoding' oftheir disciplinary behavior. Once decoded, the educator models that expert behavior and givesstudents opportunities to practice. This process, however, has yet to be documented in thedomain of construction engineering education. The objective of this paper is to describe the application of the Decoding the Disciplinesprocess in a construction engineering mechanics course using narrative inquiry methods. Theone particular bottleneck under investigation is the importance of the stress-strain relationship tounderstanding material behavior. This paper will describe the decoding interview process andthe resulting instructional model that is developed to demonstrate an expert approach. Theinstructional model addresses motivational factors and provides means for assessing studentperformance and giving feedback. This process is relevant to construction educators who may be struggling with someobstacle to their student's learning. It will provide a demonstration of a way to help studentsovercome that very obstacle drawing from the educator's own expert experience.

Tingerthal, J. (2013, June), Applying Decoding the Disciplines in a Construction Engineering Mechanics Course: A description of the Decoding Interview Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19216

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