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Board 44: Defining and Assessing Competencies in an Undergraduate Reinforced Concrete Design Course

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Matthew D. Lovell P.E. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Matthew Lovell is an Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and he currently serves as the Interim Senior Director of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment office. He is also serving as the director of the Making Academic Change Happen (MACH) program. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University, and he holds his PE license in Indiana. Matt is very active with respect to experimentation in the classroom. He greatly enjoys problem-based learning and challenge-based instruction. Matt is the 2018 recipient of the American Concrete Institute’s Walter P. Moore, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award. He was awarded Teacher of the Year for the Illinois Indiana section of ASEE in 2017. Also, he was awarded the Daniel V. Terrell Outstanding Paper Award from ASCE. Matt is highly active in ASEE, currently serving as the ASEE CE Division’s Freshman Director. In 2014, Matt received the ASEE CE Division Gerald R. Seeley Award for a paper highlighting a portion of his work regarding the development of a Master’s Degree at Rose-Hulman.

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Traditional grading can be a common source of frustration for engineering faculty. Allocating points consistently for partially correct work is a constant struggle and leaves something to be desired. The lines between different grades certainly become grayed, and it seems possible that a student can receive a passing grade in a course without ever answering a single problem correctly. Specification grading is a novel approach to grading that provides solutions to some of the common frustrations with traditional grading. Specification grading requires instructors to define assignment, project, test, or even course level specifications. These specifications are often linked to core course competencies or outcomes. Student work for the course is assessed pass/fail depending on if the relevant specification was met or not. With this approach, students are given a clear picture of what must be demonstrated for certain grades and given the freedom to select which grade they would like to pursue. Instructors are given confidence that a student receiving a passing grade has demonstrated at least some basic level of competency for the course. This paper provides a review of the application of specification grading for two iterations of an undergraduate reinforced concrete design course. Student work is compared between the two enhanced versions of the course and that of a traditional approach. Students were also surveyed to determine their perception of the enhanced specification course versus that of other traditional courses they have taken in the past. Finally, this paper includes a reflection of the implementation of specification grading, a reflection on the appropriate competencies for reinforced concrete design, and the potential benefits for use in broader civil engineering education.

Lovell, M. D. (2018, June), Board 44: Defining and Assessing Competencies in an Undergraduate Reinforced Concrete Design Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30034

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